Children of Light #5

Thursday, August 29, 2019

“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them” (John 12:36 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is one of three instances of the expression “children of light” in the Bible. What is the significance of this title?

Most Jews rejected the Lord Jesus: they were uninterested in being “the children of light.” Since they refused to believe on Him, God intervened and made them unable to believe on Him. The light of Christ’s earthly ministry was gradually withdrawn, and Israel was plunged into greater spiritual darkness (see verses 37-41, what follows today’s Scripture). Just a few days later, they demanded He be crucified as a common criminal, and He died on Calvary’s cross (see Acts 3:13-18). He resurrected victoriously and ascended back to Heaven still spurned!

Leaving Christ’s earthly ministry and entering early Acts, God lifts the blindness from Israel. Christ commissions the 12 Apostles to preach and convert Israel to Him. Even during this renewed opportunity of repentance—God wanting them to change their mind concerning His Son, moving them from unbelief to faith—Israel persisted in doubt and disobedience. By Acts chapter 7, Israel falls before God, and He sets them aside (exactly how He treated the nations back at the Tower of Babel over 20 centuries earlier in Genesis chapter 11).

In chapter 9 of Acts, Christ reached down in grace and peace to save His chief enemy, Saul of Tarsus. Many years later, Saul recounts in chapter 26: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

God will reach the whole (darkened) world—even fallen Israel—through a new Gospel message. He still purposes to create “children of light….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is the Holy Spirit ‘the Comforter?’

Minimum Wage Hike? #8

Saturday, August 10, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

Once the Antichrist rises to power and institutes his corrupt economic policies, the believing Jews in Israel’s prophetic program will have indescribable economic hardships (Revelation 13:1-18, especially verses 15-18). This is actually the context of James 2:14-26, the “faith without works is dead” passage that hardly anyone understands because of universal religious confusion.

Read what the Holy Spirit penned through King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:8: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.” Remember, this is to be understood in light of Psalms and Proverbs (cf. today’s Scripture). Believing Jews in Israel’s program should not be terrorized when they see the poor—themselves—oppressed. The Antichrist will cut them off from his economic system, and financial difficulties will mount and multiply for them. Justice is not being carried out. Politicians are crooked and cruel.

To comfort the suffering Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, Solomon enjoins them to bear the following in mind: “for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.” The Judge of all the Earth is watching the unfairness. He is omnipotent, infinitesimally far more power than any and all human governmental leaders. While injustice prevails at the moment, He is en route to Earth to right all wrongs. He sees the mercilessness of the Antichrist! He hears the cries of His saints! He is coming to take vengeance on their enemies!

Psalm 72: “[12] For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. [13] He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.” The Second Coming of Christ is God’s response to the prayers of the anguishing Jewish saints. Refer back to Psalm 10 and read it again in its entirety. Go to Psalm 37 and read it in its entirety. Indeed, the Lord Jesus Christ will deliver the poor from the wicked…

Minimum Wage Hike? #7

Friday, August 9, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

James 2:5 says: “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” Chapter 1, verse 1: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” These are Jews “poor of this world.” Why are they “poor?” Remember, they have followed the Lord’s commandment in Luke 12:33—“Sell that ye have, and give alms….” James is writing to these people, who (now in Acts) are financially struggling (cf. Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-37; Romans 15:26).

After our Dispensation of Grace, the Abrahamic Covenant applies as before. Those who bless Israel will be blessed of God; those who curse Israel will be cursed of God (Genesis 12:1-3). Matthew chapter 25: “[31] When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: [32] And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: [33] And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” When Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming (yet future), we see here “the Judgment of the Nations.” He evaluates how Gentiles treated believing Israel.

Read carefully Matthew 25:31-46. Make special note that this is not to or about us the Church the Body of Christ. These Gentiles in Israel’s program are being rewarded or punished based on how they treated believing Jews. How did they bless Israel? They helped Israel financially. Jews believing in Jesus as Messiah were hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Unable to neither buy nor sell (Revelation 13:15-18), they had suffered terribly under the Antichrist (cf. today’s Scripture).

Psalm 10:17,18: “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.” Here is the Antichrist’s destruction….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do Amos 4:4 and Amos 5:5 give opposite commands?

Minimum Wage Hike? #6

Thursday, August 8, 2019

“He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor” (Proverbs 14:31 KJV).

Is this a good verse to support minimum wage increases?

During His earthly ministry, Christ uttered some controversial words: “If thou wilt be perfect [not sinless perfection but complete/mature], go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21; cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22). Were the Messianic saints to literally sell their physical possessions and give the money to the poor? Indeed, for they actually did that later in Acts 2:44,45 and Acts 4:32-37. (Read chapter 5 to see what happened to Ananias and Sapphira for disobeying the Lord!) Why did Christ instruct them thus?

In Revelation chapter 13, we read of the coming Antichrist, whose reign will involve major economic changes: “[16] And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: [17] And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” That Israel’s believing remnant avoid having to choose between following Antichrist or retaining their wealth, they were to give up those material goods before Antichrist’s appearance. The Jewish saints in early Acts acted in accordance with this reality.

With the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace entering in mid-Acts, our mystery program interrupted—and is still delaying—the prophetic program. Since the Antichrist has yet to arrive, God’s earthly kingdom is still absent: that prosperous kingdom the poor Jewish saints would have enjoyed following Antichrist, never came in Acts. Hence, Paul speaks of “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26). Their common fund has now depleted. They have become poor—not because of slothfulness, disability, or meager earnings—but because they followed God’s will. (According to Romans 15:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Paul took up contributions from his Gentile converts to help them.)

The poor people suffering in Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Acts, typify (preview) the experience of Messianic Jews once our Dispensation of Grace closes….

Sound Doctrine Versus Fables #5

Sunday, April 28, 2019

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

First comes the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Then, and only then, arrives the tolerance toward fables.

Watch the order in 1 Timothy chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;….” These are not lost or unsaved people. They are Christians (!). Having been in the faith, they have now deserted it! They originally embraced sound Bible doctrine. Since then, they have gradually drifted, having been “seduced” or drawn away with various ideas. Verse 3 says these tenets involve religion’s forced celibacy and dietary restrictions. God’s Word calls them “doctrines of devils.” Such individuals speak lies in hypocrisy—they appear and sound good, but they are as false as false can be.

In his last epistle, the Apostle Paul wrote somber words: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). Awaiting execution, at the close of his 35-year ministry, he confessed that the vast majority of Christians in Turkey had abandoned his message. God’s grace had been deliberately tossed aside; Christ’s finished work at Calvary’s cross had been relegated to an inferior status. Man’s efforts—legalism, commandment-keeping—were now at the forefront. Works-religion corrupted the Church the Body of Christ 20 centuries ago. Yes, the professing “church” intentionally (!) apostatized 2,000 years ago!

Even after our dispensation ends, the nation Israel will follow her ancient pattern and the attitude of most today. A radical departure from sound Bible doctrine—a “falling away”—will give rise to the satanic Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2:3). In this and all cases, it is a willful renouncement of the truth. They knew correct information at first, but having rejected the light and understanding God provided them, they are plunged into spiritual darkness and madness. Friends, may we not be as they….

Sound Doctrine Versus Fables #4

Saturday, April 27, 2019

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

First comes the intolerance toward sound doctrine. Then, and only then, arrives the tolerance toward fables.

Recounting Israel’s centuries of unbelief, Stephen preached in Jerusalem (Acts chapter 7): “[41] And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. [42] Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? [43] Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”

In Exodus chapter 32, just delivered from Egyptian slavery, the Jews fashioned a golden-calf idol while Moses was up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments (the first of which forbad idolatry). Since they insisted on false religion, God “turned” (Acts 7:42): He “gave them up to worship the host of heaven.” Here is astrology—worshipping stars, planets, the sun, and the moon (and the evil spirits thereby represented). Amos 5:25-27, which Stephen cited, reveals that the Jewish people were guilty of such devil worship throughout the 40 years of wilderness wanderings. They carried Moses’ Tabernacle (JEHOVAH God’s house) and a counterfeit tent (for their pagan sky/star-gods)! Since they rejected His Law, He gave them over to that silliness.

Friends, we should certainly not look down our nose at ancient Israel. Why? Today’s churches are often repeating such sins. They have compromised with the evil world system to some degree (usually, a very large degree). Having cast aside the truth, they are rife with error. They do not rely on the Bible alone; their “culture,” “traditions of men,” “philosophical speculations,” and such notions push aside God’s Book. Again, the order found in today’s Scripture is quite clear. Truth discarded, fables embraced….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why is the Bible Book of ‘Ecclesiastes’ thus named?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 21, 2019

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

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