Perfecting #2

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

The Lord Jesus has just begun His public ministry. Walking by the Sea of Galilee, He sees some familiar entrepreneurs. Out of His 12 disciples—later called “apostles” (Matthew 10:1-8)—four were fishermen. They were Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Matthew 4:18-20), and James and John the sons of Zebedee (verses 21,22). Notice what James and John were doing when Jesus called them in Matthew 4:21, “And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them” (cf. Mark 1:19).

Fishing nets, obviously handmade in those days, were crude. They also endured a lot of abuse. Constantly wet or underwater, the heavy fish violently thrashing against and stressing the knots, and rocks cutting and fraying the ropes, the nets were deficient and thus needed “mending.” Fishermen could not perform their task without intact webbings. Something was lacking in those nets, so James and John were patching them. What could this have to do with today’s Scripture?

The Greek word rendered “perfecting” in today’s Scripture appears that sole time in the King James Bible’s underlying text. It is “katartismos,” derived from “katartidzo.” “Katartidzo” is the word our 1611 scholars translated “mending” in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19. This is what God intends the local church to accomplish.

At the time Paul the Apostle wrote Ephesians 4:11, the giving of spiritual gifts had passed (very few notice this most important detail but it will be brought to your attention here). Jesus Christ “gave”not “is giving,” “will give,” “may give,” “has been giving,” et cetera—those spiritual gifts. The action is past tense. Those spiritual gifts were to “perfect” the saints. Something was missing in these people, and God would supply the tools and materials needed to complete the task. In light of the verses we have just discussed, we see that Ephesians 4:12 is really describing a repairing process….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did the Lord Jesus tell parables?

The Wise Masterbuilder #7

Thursday, January 11, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Returning to the context of today’s Scripture, we begin the chapter at verse 1 and work our way down to ascertain its thought-flow: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [4] For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”

As we read earlier in chapter 1, and just noticed in chapter 3, so we read in chapter 11: “[18] For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. [19] For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Again, the most basic problem in Corinth is “divisions” (schisms). They follow a wide variety of people—Peter, Apollos, Christ in His earthly ministry, and Paul. This has thus caused them to hold diverse doctrines (“heresies”). Moreover, pagan Greek philosophers and legalistic Jewish false teachers have further confused them. Sound Bible doctrine is under attack: the teaching ministry of the Spirit of God is being suppressed and the flesh (man’s sin nature) is in complete control at Corinth! (Sound familiar?)

The solution to the Corinthian dilemma—yea, Christendom’s problem even today—is to see and embrace the wisdom of the wise masterbuilder that can construct a mighty spiritual edifice to the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ….

The Wise Masterbuilder #6

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10,11 KJV).

Who is the “wise masterbuilder?” In what way is he “wise?” What is he building? Where do we fit in?

Earlier, we referred to the Apostolic conference in Jerusalem as documented in Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2. There, Paul and Barnabas met with James, Peter, and John. Many years later, at the very end of his life and ministry, the Apostle Peter penned as the Holy Spirit moved him: “[15] 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; [16] 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.” Even at such a late date, Peter did not understand all Pauline doctrine: Peter knew God had given Paul “wisdom” not given to him (Peter).

When we consider Peter’s Jewish-oriented ministry, Christ’s Jewish-oriented earthly ministry, and Peter’s limited knowledge of Pauline theology, now we understand the purpose of today’s Scripture. It is actually a warning. Who is the “wise masterbuilder” according to God’s plan for the Corinthians? Peter? Nay! Christ in His earthly ministry? Nay! Who has laid the foundation as concerning those Corinthian saints? Peter? Nay! Christ in His earthly ministry? Nay! Today’s Scripture says Paul is the “wise masterbuilder” and Paul has laid the foundation. How is he “wise?” God revealed some special information directly to him.

Ephesians chapter 3:“[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)….”

Our first Bible Q&A of 2018: “Was Mary Magdalene really a prostitute?

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Saturday, December 30, 2017

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Friday, December 30, 2016

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?

Grieved

Saturday, October 8, 2016

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1,2 KJV).

Why were Israel’s religious leaders “grieved” that Apostles Peter and John were teaching the people?

The word “grieved” here carries the idea of worry or irritation. It was used to describe the Apostle Paul’s attitude toward the devil possessing the girl who incessantly harassed his party in Philippi. Luke reports in Acts chapter 16: “[16] And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: [17] The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. [18] And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

Today’s Scripture says Israel’s religious leaders were “grieved that [Peter and John] taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Part of that group was Sadducees, religious leaders who denied the Scriptural doctrine of resurrection (Matthew 22:23; Mark 12:18; Acts 23:8). Remember, Peter and John were “preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” They were contradicting religious tradition, and they had to be silenced! (Sound familiar?) After all, Peter had preached to Israel in the previous chapter: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). No wonder those Sadducees were so disturbed!

Israel’s religious leaders knew they were losing their long-held influence over God’s people, and they were not about to let it happen. They knew the 12 Apostles were drawing people away from their vain religious system. What happened to Peter and John here? Read Acts chapter 4 to find out!

Understand and Enjoy the Bible! #11

Friday, January 15, 2016

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).

Although there is so much confusion about it, can we really understand and enjoy the Bible?

Let us consider the fifth point from today’s Scripture: “as they do also the other scriptures….” Some in “Christianity” have claimed that Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, should be ripped out of the Bible! (I receive such foolish emails.) Yet, if we are to toss out Paul’s epistles, we should also remove the whole book of Acts, plus Luke, and Peter’s epistles. In today’s Scripture, Peter endorsed Paul’s epistles as “scripture.” He placed the Pauline writings on the same level with Moses’ writings, the Four Gospels, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, and so on.

When denominations and religious organizations have understood the Bible according to their particular theological systems for many decades or centuries, they will (understandably) refuse to see Pauline dispensational Bible study. To admit wrong would mean losing salaries, memberships, egos, diplomas, real estate, buildings—literally everything! They, like the people in Peter’s day, pervert Paul’s epistles as they do the other Scriptures. Making everything in the Bible the same, they refuse to separate Peter’s ministry from Paul’s ministry. When they come across opposing verses in the Bible, they just dismiss them with, “Oh, this verse is questionable—it was not in the originals.” Or, “Do not take it literally. It means this rather than what it says.”

Christendom must swallow its pride. It must realize something. Accepting Paul’s epistles as literal and true is not to deny the rest of the Bible with which those epistles disagree. Rather, it is accepting Paul’s epistles as true because those Pauline epistles contain the secret will of God previously unknown to man! We should “rightly divide” “truth” from “truth” in the Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), whether concerning Paul’s epistles or any other part of the Bible.