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.

Two Extreme Ministries

Saturday, September 10, 2011

“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13,14 KJV).

Saul of Tarsus, a religious fanatic, hated Jesus Christ. According to Philippians 3:5, Saul was a Pharisee, a religious leader in Israel, and a member of the Sanhedrin (Israel’s governing religious council). If Saul heard you had trusted in Jesus Christ, he wanted you imprisoned or dead (Acts 26:9-11)!

Jesus of Nazareth threatened his religion, so Saul personally made sure Jesus’ followers deeply suffered (see today’s Scripture). In a great persecution immediately following the prophet Stephen’s death, which Saul encouraged, Saul forced every Jewish believer in Jesus out of Jerusalem, except for the twelve apostles (Acts 8:1).

As angry Saul was heading north to Damascus, to arrest any Jewish believers in Christ there, the Lord Jesus from heaven suddenly struck down Saul and saved him in His grace and mercy (Acts 9:1-8)! Saul’s fanatical ministry against Jesus Christ was eternally “out of commission;” his fanatical ministry for Jesus Christ had “come into commission!”

For the next 35 years, Saul of Tarsus (now the Apostle Paul) served and preached Jesus Christ, the very Person he had so hated (Acts 9:21): “But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name [Jesus Christ] in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Galatians 1:23: That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.”

Until his death, Paul tirelessly preached God’s grace and Christ crucified, suffering greatly for Christ’s name (2 Corinthians 11:22-28). Paul was once known for his zeal against Jesus Christ. But, even to this day, he is known for his zeal for Jesus Christ.

By faith, we follow our Apostle, considering the name “Bible fanatics” a privilege. 🙂

Do Good Unto the Saints

Friday, August 5, 2011

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10 KJV).

In light of Israel’s coming kingdom of prosperity, Christ commanded His Jewish disciples, “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:31-34). In the early Acts period, this “little flock” sold their possessions and had “all things common” (Acts 2:44-47; Acts 4:32–5:2). Eventually, this pool of wealth ran dry, for the Bible speaks of “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26).

Still, God took care of His people in Jerusalem. God’s Word motivated the Gentiles that were saved under Paul’s ministry to donate goods and money to the poor Jewish saints in Jerusalem. When Paul would travel to Jerusalem, he would take those contributions to the little flock (Romans 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

The Apostle James wrote to his Jewish readers who would experience the famine of the seven-year Tribulation (2:15,16): “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Notice how the Apostle John agrees with James: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 John 3:17)? Does it make sense for a Christian to refuse to help fellow Christians in their time of need? Of course not.

Grace teaches us to do good unto all, but to do good chiefly unto our fellow Christians. When we refuse to help struggling Christian brethren, we are, in effect, refusing to help Christ Himself! When we see Christians who are in need, God’s love working in us motivates us to help them in any way that we can.

In Romans 12:13, we read of Christian service. One act of Christian service is “distributing to the necessity of the saints….”