Rise Up, LORD! #6

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean?

In Acts chapter 7, a window into the third heaven was opened, and Stephen, standing on Earth, saw Jesus finally standing at His Father’s right hand. When Stephen told Israel what he saw, they recalled their Old Testament prophecies and were convicted. Remembering the closing warning of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost just a year earlier (Acts 2:33-40), these lost Jews knew God’s judgment against their persistent unbelief was coming.

Today, 2000 years later, strangely, we can declare that wrath never came. Not because God was bluffing, but because He interrupted that prophetic program and introduced our mystery program. God wanted to demonstrate His wisdom. While Israel was uncooperative with Him in reaching the lost and dying Gentiles, He would still reach them without Israel. He would save and use one of Stephen’s murderers, Saul of Tarsus, commissioning him as the Apostle Paul of the Gentiles. Jesus Christ did return, but not in wrath. He returned in grace, mercy, peace, and love to save Paul (1 Timothy 1:13-16). (But, that, friends is another marvelous story we must forgo here!)

Had Israel entered the Promised Land under Moses in faith, Jesus Christ would have come to reign over them (note Exodus 15:17,18). Alas, they did not and He did not. How Israel saw JEHOVAH God cleansing His land of pagans so they (His people) could enter in, they were getting a glimpse of JEHOVAH God coming to finish the job at Christ’s Second Coming. Except, at the Second Coming, not only will that wrath be directed toward lost Gentiles, but also toward lost Israel. Only redeemed Israel—her Little Flock—will go into the land. The descendants of Abraham who reject Jesus Christ, they are His enemies, and have nowhere to go but to God’s punishment against their sin, eternal hellfire.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Cornelius have to hear Peter’s preaching?

Rise Up, LORD! #5

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel (Numbers 10:35,36 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean?

Stephen, in Acts chapter 7, one year after Calvary and Pentecost, preached to Israel’s unbelieving leadership: “[51] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. [52] Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: [53] Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. [54] When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. [55] But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, [56] And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. [57] Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him 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.”

Sadly, many preachers and commentators have poorly handled verses 55 and 56. Why was Jesus standing? Was it to receive Stephen into heaven? (Ridiculous!) The Bible says He was standing to pour out His wrath on unbelieving Israel! Lost Jews knew it, and they, convicted, picked up stones and killed Stephen. The Holy Ghost now rejected, now blasphemed against, Israel has nowhere else to go (Matthew 12:31,32). Jesus Christ was moments away from returning to Earth in Acts chapter 7. He was not only coming to destroy His Gentile enemies in His Promised Land (cf. today’s Scripture), but His Jewish enemies, too (Acts 3:19-23)!

For more information, you can see our study, “Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Satan and Dispensationalism #19

Saturday, October 24, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

Pauline dispensationalism is the method whereby we determine God’s will for us today. The books of Romans through Philemon, the 13 epistles of the Apostle Paul, are our primary instructions books for Christian living. We consult them first because they are God’s Word to and about us. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), the Lord Jesus Christ’s spokesman to us. Whatever Paul’s epistles are silent about, we consult the rest of the Bible. Never do we throw away any of the 66 Bible books. We simply recognize their place in the program of God, and how those non-Pauline books do not describe God’s current operations.

There is the temptation to take Pauline dispensationalism to the extreme and thus destroy it. Because people needlessly struggle with Paul’s “Acts” ministry, wondering why he did all those “Jewish” things, they erroneously conclude that his “Acts” ministry must have been a continuation of Israel’s program and covenants. Hence, they say Paul’s epistles written during Acts—Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians—have no relevance to us. Some “grace” people encourage us to toss those six epistles out entirely! (Heresy!) They say Paul quit working in Israel’s program when Acts ended, and that only his seven post-Acts (prison) epistles apply to us—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. (Heresy!)

Paul’s “Acts” epistles and his “prison” epistles are not two dispensations—one dispensation not for us and one dispensation for us. They are one dispensation, and that dispensation is given to us through Paul, for Paul wrote them all (today’s Scripture). The “Acts” epistles are the basic doctrines of the Dispensation of Grace while the “prison” epistles are the more advanced doctrines of the Dispensation of Grace. Again, we need to quit the nonsense and stop complicating God’s Word. Satan does that enough in denominational circles!

Satan and Dispensationalism #18

Friday, October 23, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

As aforementioned, Acts is historical not doctrinal. In it, Luke documented Israel’s persistent rejection of God’s Word, how God was just (right) in setting her aside. During the first seven chapters, Israel largely ignored the preaching of Peter and the 11 apostles. From Acts chapter 9 onward (the beginning of Paul’s ministry onward), Israel again largely ignored God’s Word. She persecuted Paul as she had mistreated Peter and the 11.

During Acts, Paul wrote: “…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 is [present tense] come upon them to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). God’s wrath had fallen on Israel. She had no special spiritual status anymore. These angry, unbelieving Jews persecuted Paul for preaching that he, not they, was reaching allnot some—Gentiles for JEHOVAH! Israel fell during Acts, not at the end of or after Acts. Romans 11:11-13,28—also written during Acts—makes this abundantly clear.

Until they learned of that new divine revelation, Israel’s 12 apostles faithfully continued their ministry they had received from Jesus Christ. In Acts chapter 15, Paul taught them about the new program (mystery), the new message (Gospel of Grace), and the new agency (Body of Christ). Thereafter, Israel’s little flock was sealed off to new members. Its members eventually died off. Israel’s apostles released themselves from their commission to preach to lost Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 1:8). Collectively, lost people were “heathen”equally hell-bound. Peter and the 10 agreed that these “heathen” were Paul and Barnabas’ responsibility to convert into the Body of Christ (Galatians 2:6-9). The Body of Christ, which had started with Paul in Acts chapter 9, then gained preeminence.

Satan and Dispensationalism #17

Thursday, October 22, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

Israel had a small believing remnant during the opening chapters of Acts. The 12 apostles’ preaching was largely ignored: most Jews persisted in unbelief and rebellion. Lost Israel was hopeless! God’s all-consuming wrath was about to fall on Israel when they blasphemed the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 7.

But, God in His grace suspended Israel’s prophetic program. Consequently, He was able to create a whole new arrangement of how to deal with lost Israel and lost Gentiles. That dispensational change—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (today’s Scripture)—occurred especially to save and use Saul of Tarsus, the most defiant sinner at the time, and make his salvation our “pattern” (1 Timothy 1:13-16). Once Saul was saved in Acts chapter 9, he literally became the epitome of God’s grace. The same grace that saved him, he was now to preach as a new Gospel message. It was Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for all people’s sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). Salvation would reach Gentiles through Paul’s ministry, without Israel (Romans 11:11-13). Also, Paul’s Gospel meant all those lost Jews like Saul had one last chance to escape God’s impending wrath.

From Acts chapters 7 through 15, Israel’s apostles were mostly unaware of any dispensational change. Peter got a glimpse in Acts chapter 10 when dealing with Gentile Cornelius, but he and the other apostles did not fully comprehend it until they met with Paul and Barnabas (chapter 15). Paul’s account of that Jerusalem Council is Galatians chapter 2. Galatians says Israel’s apostles finally discovered the radical dispensational change. See, the dispensational change did not come in late Acts or post Acts. Paul learned about it from Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9, and Israel’s apostles learned it about 20 years later in chapter 15. Paul taught them, all about that delay in prophecy. Let us heed Paul’s testimony and not get confused ourselves!

Satan and Dispensationalism #16

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:1,2 KJV).

Satan knows that Dispensational Bible Study is the key to understanding God’s Word. Thus, he denies it and corrupts it every chance he gets!

While Acts is certainly not easy reading, theology has complicated it. Historical rather than doctrinal, “The Acts of the Apostles,” simply documents Israel’s overwhelmingly negative response to God’s Word preached by the Apostles.

In Luke 13:6-9, Jesus spoke a parable. Please read it in your own time. We can only interpret it here. Father God planted a fig tree (Mosaic Law) in His vineyard (Israel’s land). For three years, Christ’s earthly ministry, God sought any righteousness in Israel. But, no spiritual fruit was there! The Law could only identify and condemn sinners—it had no power to make them right before God. Father God was ready to destroy Israel’s religious life. Jesus intervened, “Father, give them one more year before You cut it down.”

Confirming the parable, Israel ignored Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, and demanded His crucifixion. But, Jesus intervened at Calvary, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). So, Father God gave Israel a one-year opportunity to repent, to think differently, and turn from their vain works-religion. That one year was Acts chapters 1-7. The 12 apostles preached their hearts out, desperately trying to convert stubborn Israel. It was useless. Finally, in Acts chapter 7, Stephen, filled with the Holy Ghost, accused Israel of persistent unbelief and rebellion. He was stoned to death! Jesus Christ was arising in the third heaven, to return in wrath and destroy those apostates (Acts 7:55,56; Psalm 110:1)! Israel had blasphemed the Holy Ghost, and could not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31,32). She had nowhere to go now but hell!

Leading Israel’s rebellion against Jesus Christ was Saul of Tarsus, one of Stephen’s challengers. Saul would become the Apostle Paul. The only way to save such a wicked man as Saul was for God to radically depart from Israel’s program and covenants. The Dispensation of Grace came to save Saul first (1 Timothy 1:12-16)!

Peter and Dispensationalism #3

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV).

What can the Apostle Peter teach us about dispensational Bible study?

In early Acts, Peter preached that Messiah Jesus would return to destroy those Jews who incessantly rejected Him (Acts 2:32-40; Acts 3:19-26). The Prophet Stephen said he saw Jesus Christ standing at His Heavenly Father’s right hand in the third heaven, ready to come and judge apostate Israel (Acts 7:55,56). In a fit of rage, unbelieving Israel killed Holy-Spirit-filled Stephen… with Jesus-hating Saul of Tarsus encouraging and approving (7:57–8:3). Saul, along with the other Israeli Jesus-haters, should have been immediately consumed, burned up in God’s wrath. Yet, no wrath came! Why?

Thirty years later, Saul, now the Apostle Paul, reflecting on his salvation experience in Acts chapter 9, wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12-16: [12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save [not punish!!!!] sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

As Peter learned (cf. today’s Scripture), God had given those Christ-rejecters in Israel yet another chance to escape that wrath. Paul was first to be saved into the Church the Body of Christ. As God operates our Dispensation of Grace, grace, love, mercy, and all longsuffering will dominate, thereby delaying divine wrath!