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?

What is God Doing? #23

Sunday, January 27, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

Christian friend, have you ever wished the Lord Jesus Christ would hurry up and come back, and rid us of all these challenges besetting our society? Sure, we all have (and still do, oftentimes). Why has He not returned yet, even after 2,000 years of believers praying for it? Will He ever come back? When? What is taking Him so long? Has He forgotten? Is He lazy? Can He not sense the urgency? Has He turned a blind eye to the evil waxing worse and worse? Has He closed His ears to the cries of the oppressed?

God’s wrath, dear readers, would have actually been poured out on our planet 20 centuries ago. Jesus Christ should have returned long ago. Historically, it would have occurred in early Acts. The Prophet Stephen declared in Acts 7:55,56: “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, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Psalm 110:1 had predicted 1,000 years earlier: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” As soon as sitting Christ stood at His Heavenly Father’s right hand, that meant He was returning to judge His enemies in undiluted rage (cf. Acts 2:33-36; Acts 3:19-23, especially the unbelievers being “destroyed” in verse 23).

John the Baptist forewarned of “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7-12), so did Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:36-43), Peter (Acts chapters 2 and 3), and Stephen (Acts chapter 7). They preached that Divine punishment would transpire within the lifetime of their audiences. Yet, it never came—and, as you know, we are waiting for it still. Why? The God of the Bible is deliberately doing something different today….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray for God to ‘guide the surgeon’s hands?’

Enlightening the Ethiopian Eunuch #2

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet (Acts 8:26-28 KJV).

Why and how can this Ethiopian eunuch be enlightened?

The events of Acts chapter 8 show us Israel’s prophetic program breaking down. With Stephen’s death by stoning in chapter 7, Israel falls: her national leadership has blasphemed the Holy Spirit for the last time, and that will not be forgiven (Matthew 12:31,32; cf. Acts 7:51-60). The Bible narrative subsequently focuses on Philip’s ministry (chapter 8). Like Stephen, Philip was one of the seven Jerusalem elders the 12 Apostles appointed in Acts 6:1-6.

Leaving Jerusalem, Philip travels to Samaria (central Israel, between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea) to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (see Acts 8:1-13). The Samaritans are not full-blooded Jews—namely, they are half-Gentile (cf. John 4:9,12). Yet, unlike Jerusalem, they eagerly hear and believe God’s Word (Jesus is Christ). By entering these incidents into the record of Scripture, God rebukes Jerusalem for unbelief.

After preaching in Samaria, the angel of the Lord instructs Philip to travel to southern Israel to visit an African man, a Gentile (today’s Scripture). This eunuch (government official) is returning home to Ethiopia after worshipping in Jerusalem. Sitting in his chariot, he reads the Book of Isaiah (no doubt a copy from northern Africa).

“[29] Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. [30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? [31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” Philip did not shy away from that calling. He “ran thither”—he was excited!! Furthermore, the eunuch (unlike the Jews in Jerusalem) wants to learn and believe God’s Word….

Spurning God Thrice

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21 KJV).

The God of the Bible is a Trinity—three separate and distinct Persons all equally God. Behold, this was highly advantageous to the nation Israel!

THE FATHER REJECTED. John 1:6 says, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:3). Father God sent John the Baptist to be the forerunner of His Son. He announced Messiah’s arrival to Israel, yet Israel permitted King Herod to behead John. Nevertheless, God extended mercy to evil Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SON REBUFFED. Jesus said in Matthew 12:32: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him:….” “Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:22,23). On Calvary’s cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). At His Son’s request, Father God was merciful to wicked Israel. Judgment did not fall.

THE SPIRIT REJECTED. Matthew 12:31,32: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men…. whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” With the Holy Spirit coming in Acts chapter 2, Israel was given one final year of mercy. Israel must repent and trust Jesus Christ, for He is returning in wrath to punish their unbelief. Through the 12 Apostles, God the Holy Spirit pled with Israel until chapter 7. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, preached before Israel’s leadership. They stoned him! As Jesus said, this would not be forgiven (cf. Hebrews 6:4-6).

Strangely, judgment did not fall, even here. God changed dispensations, delaying that wrath to fall beyond our day! That individual Jews and Gentiles be saved from Divine judgment, He began Paul’s ministry, the Dispensation of Grace!

Oft Reproof, Much Hardening

Sunday, September 2, 2018

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1 KJV).

Behold, sinfulness intensifies as God’s Word is continuously spurned!

Matthew 14:6-10 says Israel tolerated John’s death (beheading): “But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.”

Mark 15:9-15 declares Israel demanded Jesus’ death (crucifixion): “But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.”

Acts 7:57-60 reports Israel caused Stephen’s death (stoning): “Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 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. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

The Jewish people became increasingly opposed to God’s Word to them, hardening their own heart. Indifference—permitting God’s messenger to be killed—ultimately became outright bloodthirstiness—actively participating in the killing of another spokesman! Beware, friend, sin begins “small” but grows exceedingly!

Fury Turned Away? #7

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away; Until thy brother’s anger turn away from thee, and he forget that which thou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I be deprived also of you both in one day? (Genesis 27:44,45 KJV).

How does this “fury” compare to Almighty God’s anger?

The Holy Spirit, in Acts chapter 7, pled with Israel’s unbelieving leaders one final time. After one year of post-Calvary ministry, they still refuse conversion: “[55] But he [Stephen], 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….”

Why did they kill Stephen? How did he upset them? They knew their “Old Testament” Scriptures, the prophecies about Messiah standing at God’s right hand. Isaiah 3:13: “The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people.” Psalm 68: “[1] Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. [2] As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. Finally, Psalm 110:1: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

Messiah would sit at the LORD’S right hand only until it would be time to rise/stand and return in wrath and judgment. (In an earlier study, we saw Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:34-36, approximately a year prior to Acts chapter 7.) Convicted by the message of God’s wrath coming on them, Stephen’s audience mercilessly kills him. At the end of Peter’s life, 2 Peter chapter 3, scoffers are asking about that “looming” wrath of God that should have come some 30-plus years earlier. So, where did God’s wrath in Acts chapter 7 go? Peter provides an interesting explanation….