Not Mixed With Faith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

We can read and memorize all the verses we want, but, if we are not approaching Bible verses in faith, we will not gain the profit God put in them.

I had a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ who is in the ministry. He is dealing with an individual who jumps from religious group to religious group (five or six current affiliations). This man, whether saved or not I am unsure, constantly asks the brother various Bible questions. How sad it is that people can ask so many questions and still be so ill equipped, unable to distinguish truth from error. Yea, treating the Bible like some “intellectual gym class” will severely harm rather than greatly help!

Take, for example, the nation Israel in the wilderness (Hebrews chapter 3— previous to today’s Scripture). They heard the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai. They saw the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. Unlike the pagan nations around them, Israel had access to the one true God (Deuteronomy chapter 4 in its entirety). Alas, Israel did not believe a word God said (today’s Scripture)! They heard, heard, heard… but they did not believe, believe, believe! Hearing the Word of God does not benefit you if you do not believe it! Paul said this of unbelieving Jews in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Israel had heard the Word of God for centuries, and yet was still in rank unbelief during his Acts ministry!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, speaking to Israel during the future time after our Dispensation of Grace, urges the Jews to believe the kingdom doctrines Jesus Christ taught during His earthly ministry. They are to believe on Him as their Messiah, the Son of God, their Redeemer; they must wait for Him to return at His Second Coming to establish that earthly kingdom of God. That wonderful news cannot profit them if “not mixed with faith!”

The Heavenly Places #5

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry do we learn how God will cleanse the heavenly places. Ephesians highlights our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ. Just as Father God will use Israel to accomplish His will in the Earth, so He will use us to achieve His will in the Heavens. He will exalt His Son, Jesus Christ, in both realms. Ephesians chapter 1: “[9] [Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance….”

One day, brethren, we will be displayed for all of the universe to see. All creatures will witness God’s wisdom fully manifested in outer space. We will participate in Jesus Christ’s exaltation in the heavenly places throughout eternity future. Ephesians chapter 2 declares: “[6] And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

As good as this all is, however, we are not there yet. The heavenly places are still so far away! Howbeit, one day, Jesus Christ will return to Earth—at the Rapture—to take His Body (us) beyond the sky. Until we get there, though, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Knowing full well that we will replace him and his minions in the heavenly places, he fights us every chance he gets. We had better don all the armor of God, beloved, that “we stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-20)! 🙂

 

The Heavenly Places #4

Monday, June 5, 2017

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Parroting the misguided claims of so-called “Bible authorities,” critics complain about the King James’ italicized words. The phrase “heavenly places” is heavily derided because the original Greek does not have “places.” Thus, people refuse to quote the Authorized Version verbatim here—they prefer “heavenlies.” “Places” is needed to construct a complete English thought; therefore, our 1611 translators rightly inserted it. Upon removing “places,” we rob ourselves of an important link.

Revelation 12:7-9: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Friend, did you notice “place” in verse 8? It means a “room, position, dwelling.” Satan and his fallen angels functioning in heaven today (today’s Scripture) will be tossed out onto the Earth halfway through the future seven-year Tribulation. (Recall the “Old Testament” references about God and Satan both working in the heavenly places, with God cleansing those regions of evil. The Revelation is the capstone.)

With the heavenly places vacated of evil beings, Father God installs us the Church the Body of Christ into those positions of power (refer to the “heavenly” references in Ephesians—1:3-12, 1:20-23, 2:6-7, 3:10-11). Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:… [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth [using Israel], or things in heaven [using us the Body of Christ].”

Now, we wrap it up….

When God Sings

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 KJV).

Behold, God is singing! Why is He so joyful?

We have heard various people sing (some much better than others… hahaha). In Bible days, people heard angels singing—what majestic sounds they must have heard! Still, what would it be like if God Himself sang? Can you imagine how melodious those lyrics would be? Think of His voice thundering, set to music played by angelic beings. Human words would surely fail to describe that experience. One day, God will indeed sing for joy.

Today’s Scripture actually finds Israel in a dilemma. She has broken God’s Covenant of Law—the Mosaic Law—and is thus under divine judgment (the fifth course of judgment identified in Leviticus chapter 26). Sin and Satan have captured her. Gentile nations are still oppressing her. She is void of political and spiritual strength. Her Promised Land abounds with her enemies.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save….” Israel is helpless, but her God is returning to deliver her (prophetically, Christ’s Second Coming). The Lord Jesus Christ will literally and physically present Himself to Israel, to live and reign with the Jews on Earth. They will become His kingdom of priests, as prophesied, to take His Word and salvation to the Gentiles. In light of all this, “[God] will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

JEHOVAH God is thrilled that Israel, the nation once the object of His wrath and judgment, has now become His people. She has been restored to Him—resurrected, re-gathered, sins forgiven, His laws in her heart, and so on. She is now the chief kingdom/nation in Earth: God’s purpose and plan for her is now fulfilled. “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). God is very passionate in accomplishing mighty things with Israel, and He will have every right to sing when He keeps His promises to her!

Daniel, His Friends, and Separation #6

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself (Daniel 1:8 KJV).

Every Sunday School child knows about Daniel and his three companions (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). Unfortunately, today, few adults practice what these precious children knew!

The idolatrous system that continually ensnared the nation Israel throughout the “Old Testament” is still with us. Ultimately, beyond our day, it will purge Israel of all unbelievers. Numerous “Old Testament” historical narratives, including today’s Scripture, preview what Israel will experience in the last days. Daniel’s Record will be very profitable to the circumcision (Jewish) saints during Daniel’s 70th Week—or “the seven-year Tribulation.” During that period after our Dispensation of Grace, Israel’s believing remnant is urged to follow Daniel’s example—remain separate from the Antichrist’s false religious system. Those believers in Christ will see themselves pictured in Daniel chapter 1, as well as his other writings (chapters 3 and 6, for example—separating from Satan’s evil system and suffering for it at the hands of wicked men).

Bible Books Hebrews through Revelation delineate the various aspects of Israel bearing the end-times scenario. For example, we see the suffering Jewish saints being encouraged in the Book of 1 Peter. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21)—the whole Book highlights the stark differences between Jewish saints and Jewish unbelievers. The Revelation underscores Antichrist’s rise and fall, Jesus Christ returning to deliver Israel into her earthly kingdom (exactly like the miraculous deliverances of believing Jews throughout the Book of Daniel).

Complimenting Daniel’s pattern, the Apostle John wrote to Israel in light of the destruction of Antichrist’s political-religious systems: “[4] And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. [5] For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:4-5). God will undoubtedly judge that evil world system, so, brethren, let us remember to also keep separate from it!

The “Triumphal” Entry

Friday, April 21, 2017

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.