The Little Flock #1

Sunday, December 4, 2011

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 KJV)

Christendom enjoys claiming the previous verse, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things [the material goods of verses 24-30] shall be added unto you” (verse 31). Yet they do not enjoy the verse after today’s Scripture (verse 33): Sell that ye have, and give alms….” Today’s Scripture identifies the audience of verses 31 and 33—“the little flock,” not us!

Throughout the Bible, God refers to Israel as sheep (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 10:6; et al.). In one parable (Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:3-7,10), Jesus likens Himself to a shepherd, who has 100 sheep (the nation Israel). One sheep is lost and cries for help, so He seeks that one sheep. This one sheep symbolizes Jews who acknowledge their lost (unsaved) condition. The other 99 sheep (most Jews) willingly continue in spiritual ignorance.

Notice the adjective “little” in the term “little flock.” Even after Israel saw her Messiah Jesus perform miracles, signs, and wonders, most of them ignored Him. Very few Jews trusted in Jesus as Messiah—the Bible says only 120 believers were in Jerusalem at the end of Christ’s earthly ministry (Acts 1:15). The “little flock” was little indeed!

Although 8,000 Jews were saved during early Acts (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4), that was just a fraction of Israel. Millions of Jews did not believe. Those who did believe during John the Baptist’s ministry followed his water baptism: the little flock is “a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). Any Jew who was saved in early Acts obeyed Peter’s instructions of Acts 2:38, and joined that little flock of Jewish believers from Christ’s earthly ministry.

The “little flock” encompasses all Jewish believers from Christ’s earthly ministry, early Acts (pre-Acts chapter 9), and the Tribulation (it does not include any Jewish believers today). In Galatians 2:9, the little flock is called the “circumcision” and in John 21:15-17 they are called “sheep” and “lambs.” Unlike us, they are not members of the Church the Body of Christ. As today’s Scripture indicates, the little flock is the recipients of Christ’s earthly kingdom.

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This is the Day Which the LORD Hath Made

Friday, November 25, 2011

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture mean? Is it talking about today? Many times people quote this verse but they have no idea what it means. As always, we look at the context to determine the meaning, lest we make the Bible say something God never intended it to say.

Notice verse 22: “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” According to Acts 4:10,11, Psalm 118:22 was fulfilled when Israel rejected and crucified her King Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross: “Jesus Christ of Nazareth… is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (cf. 1 Peter 2:7,8). Thus, we are led to conclude that today’s Scripture is foretelling the coming of Israel’s Messiah.

Look at Psalm 118:26 for additional insight: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.” Does this sound familiar? Was this not what rejoicing Jews shouted when Jesus Christ rode on the colt, the foal of an ass (donkey) on the Sunday before His crucifixion? Yes, it was! “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38; John 12:13).

Had Israel accepted Jesus as her Messiah-King, that earthly kingdom would have been established. Instead, most Jews rejected Him and demanded His crucifixion. Although God gave Israel a renewed opportunity of repentance in the first one-third of the book of Acts, they still rejected Jesus as King. Today, Israel’s program is postponed, and that earthly kingdom is still future.

In conclusion, today’s Scripture does not describe today (or any day in our dispensation, for that matter). It applied to the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion, often called the “Triumphal Entry.”

The Worthless Résumé #2

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:8,9 KJV).

Saul of Tarsus, the most religious man of his day, had persecuted Jerusalem’s Jewish believers in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:1). Now, anger propelled him to pursue believing Jews in Damascus (northeast of Jerusalem).

En route, Saul realized that Damascus was not his only destination—he was headed to hell too! Despite his religious performance (described in Philippians 3:4-6), he did not have God’s righteousness. His religious works could not erase the fact that he was still a sinful son of Adam, a persecutor, and a blasphemer (1 Timothy 1:13,14).

In Acts chapter 9, the Lord Jesus Christ graciously discarded Saul’s worthless résumé and replaced it with something far superior: His (Christ’s) accomplishments on Calvary’s cross. Thus, Saul “suffered the loss of all things [his religious accomplishments]”—his religious activities “but dung” (today’s Scripture). Saul was now “in Christ”: He had been placed into Jesus Christ, and had God’s righteousness.

We who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should be ever grateful to our Saviour that our worthless résumés have been replaced with His well-pleasing résumé. We are saved by “the righteousness which is through the faith of Christ(today’s Scripture). Christ’s faith never wavered. Unlike us, He always pleased His Father. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17; cf. Mark 1:11).

As Christians, we are “the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). To wit, in Christ, we are just as pleasing to God the Father as Jesus Christ is! Wow! Like Saul, we realize that our religious activities will never give us this righteous position. It only takes the accomplishments of Christ to get us to heaven—anything less is “but dung.”

*Adapted from the poem “The Worthless Résumé.”

The Worthless Résumé #1

Monday, November 7, 2011

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4-6 KJV).

Saul of Tarsus was extremely religious, a strict adherent of Judaism. Instructed by the Pharisee and rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 5:34 cf. Acts 22:3), Saul was “more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of [his] fathers” (Galatians 1:14). Today’s Scripture verifies Saul’s “outstanding” religious performance: if there was one man who thought his righteousness was sufficient to get him to heaven, it was Saul. But….

Continue reading the context of today’s Scripture to discover that, despite Saul’s religious activities, he was still headed to hell! “But what things were gain to me [those of today’s Scripture], those I counted loss for Christ” (verse 7). In order to be saved, Saul had to realize that his “righteousness” was a “filthy rag” in the eyes of the LORD (Isaiah 64:6). Saul’s religious accomplishments amounted to a worthless résumé.

“Yea, doubtless, and I count all things [those of today’s Scripture] but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:8,9).

Saul realized his “righteousness” was “dung” (manure)! The only solution to his sin and sins was God’s righteousness, Christ’s sinless blood. In Acts chapter 9, Saul quit trusting in himself and trusted in Jesus Christ.

Are you like Saul of Tarsus was before he became the Apostle Paul? Are you trusting in your “good” works for salvation? Why not abandon that worthless résumé like Paul did? Why not trust in the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ, the only résumé that impresses God Almighty?

Two Secret Comings of Christ

Saturday, November 5, 2011

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” (1 Corinthians 15:51 KJV).

The Old Testament prophets foretold Israel’s coming Messiah. Psalm 22 and Isaiah chapter 53 described a suffering and dying Messiah. Isaiah 9:6,7 and Zechariah 14:1-4 prophesied a Messiah who would win battles for Israel and ultimately be her King. The prophets could not understand how one Messiah could fulfill both roles (1 Peter 1:10,11), so they wondered if there were two Messiahs.

In hindsight, on this side of Calvary, we understand that there is one Jesus Christ, but His coming described in the Old Testament is actually two comings. Christ came to Israel 2,000 years ago to die and resurrect (His First Coming), but He will one day return to Israel as King (His Second Coming).

But, we Berean Bible students understand that God kept our Dispensation of Grace a secret from those Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:5,9; Colossians 1:25-27). Until the ascended Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to Paul, God never told anyone of a secret time period between those two comings of Christ. So, in addition to two prophesied comings of Christ (His earthly ministry and His millennial reign as King), there are two secret comings of Christ in Scripture.

Our Dispensation of Grace opened in Acts chapter 9, when the ascended Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul (later the Apostle Paul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:13-18). Instead of pouring out His wrath, which should have occurred after the Jews stoned their prophet Stephen in Acts chapter 7 (Acts 7:55,56 cf. Psalm 110:1), God poured out His grace on Saul and saved him! This coming of Christ to open our dispensation, save Saul, and make him Paul the Apostle, was unknown to the Old Testament prophets.

Likewise, there is a secret coming of Christ to conclude our dispensation and take us (the Body of Christ) to heaven. The rapture, a “mystery” (secret) unknown to the Old Testament, is only revealed in Paul’s epistles (today’s Scripture).

You only see these marvelous truths when you study the Bible dispensationally.

I Send Thee Unto the Gentiles

Saturday, October 8, 2011

“And he said… Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 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” (Acts 26:17,18 KJV).

Ephesians 2:11,12 explains that, in “time past,” Gentiles (non-Jews) were “without Christ” and “without God in the world.” Back in Genesis chapter 11, at the tower of Babel, God “gave up” the nations “to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30; Romans 1:20-32). From Genesis chapter 12 until we come to Paul’s ministry (Acts chapter 9), God dealt with Israel, not the Gentiles.

Did God not care about saving Gentiles in the Old Testament? He did care, but His method of saving Gentiles was through Israel’s rise to kingdom glory (Isaiah 60:1-3; Zechariah 8:20-23; et al.): God would only bless and save Gentiles through Israel’s kingdom (Genesis 12:3). But, by the time of early Acts, Israel has already killed her Messiah-King Jesus Christ and blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31,32). Now, God saves Saul of Tarsus (Paul).

In today’s Scripture the Apostle Paul recounts his salvation experience to King Agrippa. Jesus Christ told Paul that he would His vessel to Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15,16; Acts 22:21). Now, God revealed that Gentile salvation would occur through Israel’s fall. With her kingdom temporarily postponed, salvation would go to Gentiles through Paul’s ministry. “Through their [Israel’s] fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11).

Today, we do not need to be a part of the nation Israel to be saved. By placing our faith in the finished cross work of Jesus Christ, God accepts us and saves us in His Son (Ephesians 1:6). In the “but now,” as Gentiles we have an opportunity to be saved from our sins and delivered from satanic bondage (Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:12-14). Despite Israel’s unbelief and rejection of her kingdom, salvation still came to us Gentiles!

The Deliverer

Monday, October 3, 2011

“This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush” (Acts 7:35 KJV).

Moses is a type (figure, preview) of Jesus Christ. By commanding Moses to do what he did for Israel, God was foreshadowing what the Lord Jesus Christ would accomplish for Israel millennia later.

When Moses approached Israel in Egypt for the first time, Israel rejected him. Today’s Scripture quotes Exodus 2:14, where a Hebrew asked Moses, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Moses, who had just murdered an Egyptian soldier, fled Egypt and disappeared for 40 years.

After that 40-year period, the LORD appeared to Moses in the famous burning bush account to inform Moses that He would now deliver Israel (Exodus chapter 3). By faith Moses returned to Egypt to deliver God’s people from slavery. As Moses led Israel out of Egyptian bondage, so Jesus Christ will one day deliver Israel from satanic bondage.

When Jesus Christ came to Israel the first time, they rejected Him too. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). In fact, the Jewish priests shouted (John 19:15): “We have no king but Caesar!” Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary’s cross, murdered at the Jews’ behest and executed by the Roman government. In the early Acts period, Jesus Christ, as a royal exile, ascended to His Father’s right hand, where He still sits today.

As Moses left Israel for 40 years, Christ has left Israel for nearly 2000 years. Jesus Christ will return at His Second Coming to deliver Israel from her sins, from Satan’s power, and from the Gentiles’ rule (Isaiah 59:20,21; Jeremiah 31:34; Romans 11:26-29; et al.). This second time, the believing remnant of Israel will accept Jesus as their Messiah-King, and He will set up His earthly kingdom (Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:8,9; Acts 3:19-26; Hebrews 9:28; et al.).

As Moses lead Israel to the Promised Land, so Jesus Christ will one day lead Israel to that same land, to dwell in it forever.