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 #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!

Peter and Dispensationalism #1

Sunday, August 2, 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?

God’s impending judgment is connected to the Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s coming Messiah (Deuteronomy 32:22-43; Psalm 2:4-5; Psalm 68:1-8; Isaiah 34:1-15; Jeremiah 25:29-33; Joel 1:1–2:32; Nahum 1:1-8; Zechariah 14:12; et al.). Hence, John the Baptist, just before Messiah (Christ) Jesus began His earthly ministry, warned his audience of that “wrath to come,” when Jesus would baptize Israel “with fire,” “to burn up the chaff [lost Jews] with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12). Jesus Himself forewarned of this future “burning,” this “fire,” when angels would gather unbelieving sinners and “cast [them] into a furnace of fire,” a place with “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:30,40-42,49,50). At that Second Coming of Christ, the Jesus-rejecters (Matthew 24:37-41) and the Jewish-haters would be consumed and tossed into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:30,41-46).

In early Acts, Peter urged Israel—who had just crucified Jesus—to quickly repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Christ because He was coming back to judge His foes—them (Acts 2:32-40)! One year later, Stephen said he saw Jesus standing at His Heavenly Father’s right hand, ready to return and pour out that wrath on still-rebellious Israel (Acts 7:51-55). Literally moments away from God’s wrath falling on wicked mankind, just before Jesus Christ came back in “flaming fire” to take vengeance on rebels (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9), He returned in grace and mercy, to save the leader of Israel’s rebellion—Saul of Tarsus. Yes, God took Satan’s chief man and made him the Apostle Paul!

Writing near his life’s end, Peter did not instruct his audience to read the Old Testament or Four Gospels to learn about that delay in wrath. Why? We only learn the mystery from Paul, which is exactly where Peter directed his readers in today’s Scripture!

The Lively Oracles

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

“This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38 KJV).

To mess with the “lively oracles” is to deal with the “living God!”

The expression “the lively oracles” appears only once in our King James Bible. Stephen used it in today’s Scripture in his sermon to Israel’s national leadership. In that context, Stephen affirmed that Jesus Christ was the Prophet whom Moses predicted back some 1,500 years prior in Deuteronomy 18:15-18. That same Jesus Christ was with the angel that spoke to Moses in Mount Sinai, when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God (cf. Galatians 3:19).

While the Ten Commandments were written on cold, dead stone, they were the very words of God Himself: “And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables” (Exodus 32:16).

Those words were “lively oracles” because they were the words, not just the thoughts, of the living God. As Jesus declared, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The word “quick” in older English means “living and life-giving” (“quick” in Hebrews 4:12 is the same Greek word, zao, translated “lively” in today’s Scripture).

God’s Word is not only living, it can impart life to its hearers and readers. Hence, Jesus’ spoken words raised Lazarus and others from the dead. His inspired words, the Gospel message we trusted, raised us out of spiritual death and gave us new life and a home in heaven. The same powerful words that God Himself wrote centuries ago, we have them preserved today in our language (the King James Bible). May we never let “scholarship” kill our faith in the living words of the living God! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘kicking against the pricks’ mean?

Iniquity Not Yet Full #7

Sunday, May 18, 2014

“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16 KJV).

Today’s Scripture expressly declares why the God of the Bible “takes His time” when dealing with sinful mankind.

Israel’s religious leaders abuse God’s prophet Stephen, biting him and throwing him out of Jerusalem. Finally, the mob throws stones at him until he dies. With God’s wrath on mankind literally moments away, the greatest dispensational change to ever “grace” God’s dealings with man, occurs.

Saul of Tarsus—leader of Israel’s opposition to Christ and His little flock, holder of the clothes of Stephen’s murderers in Acts chapter 7—personally met the Lord Jesus Christ in Acts chapter 9. As Saul was traveling to Damascus to persecute more Messianic Jews, the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul from heaven. There, Saul experienced God’s love, mercy, and grace; he trusted Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, and became the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ commissioned him as the Apostle Paul; thereafter, Paul had another extreme ministry—Jesus Christ crucified for our sins, buried, and resurrected (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Years later, Paul wrote of himself: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief [first]. 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” (1 Timothy 1:13-16).

In order to have mercy on Israel, God had to suspend her prophetic program. To save Saul of Tarsus, God had to begin a new dispensation, a new set of instructions to mankind, a new program, one He had in mind from before creation but had kept secret—the mystery program, or “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” (Ephesians 3:1-11). God delayed His wrath again….