Sifted Saints #5

Monday, March 13, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

In his final meeting with the Ephesian church elders, Paul through the Holy Spirit issued a grave warning in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. [31] Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. [32] And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

Notice how Satan “sifts” members of the Body of Christ by having them overlook “the word of [God’s] grace” (verse 32). Thus they follow the Law, available in many forms—that is, 38,000 denominations! Splinter group after splinter group develops, until the distinction is no longer “Christian versus non-Christian,” but increasingly “this denomination versus that denomination.” So many precious Christian souls are entangled in such confusion and division!

As Satan attempted to “divide and conquer” the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, so he uses a similar strategy with us the Church the Body of Christ today. Remember, he attacked the Little Flock by focusing on its chief Apostle (that is, Peter). With Peter discredited, the Little Flock would collapse. Likewise, we see Satan attacking the Church the Body of Christ by concentrating on its leading Apostle (namely, Paul). There are “doctrines of devils” today aimed at questioning Paul’s grace doctrines, Romans through Philemon (1 Timothy 4:1-16)—people using the Bible but not “rightly dividing” it (2 Timothy 2:15). With the Bible not rightly divided, the Christians are divided and conquered!

Sifted Saints #4

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

“Simon, Simon” underscores the seriousness in Jesus’ voice. After delivering to Peter the grim news about Satan wanting to split up the Little Flock—mainly by attacking its leadership, the 12 Apostles—the Lord comforts His chief Apostle. Not many people notice, but the Lord, in today’s Scripture, revealed that He had prayed specifically for Peter ahead of the impending ordeals. But I have prayed for thee….” (We do not read the actual prayer, although it preceded today’s Scripture.) Jesus prayed for Peter (remember, “thee,” singular), rather than the whole group (“you,” plural, as in modern versions).

“[T]hat thy faith fail not….” We are not to suppose that Peter’s faith will be unwavering (because, as we know, it was not). The implication is that he will fall; hence, his “converting,” or turning around, will be necessary. However, because of Jesus’ prayer, Peter’s denial of God’s only begotten Son will not be continuous. “[A]nd when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” We know that, after he denied Christ, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62; cf. Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72). Although not recorded in the Bible, we can assume that Peter was “converted” (moved from denier to embracer) sometime after.

When Peter would be turned around, re-oriented toward the right way, Jesus told him to strengthen his brethren. Those brethren would be vulnerable to Satan’s further assaults, but with Peter, their leader, now restored in faith, they would be also rescued from additional spiritual harm. Peter could encourage them to remain having faith in Christ. In fact, he will go on to declare to them the news of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24:34)! As a powerful, Holy-Spirit-filled Apostle, he will go on to lead the 11 Apostles of Jesus Christ into the Book of Acts. Except Judas, none of the Apostles were permanently lost to Satan. In short, the Lord Jesus’ prayer was effectual!

The Devil, however, still employs “divide and conquer” to hinder believers in Christ today….

Sifted Saints #3

Saturday, March 11, 2017

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31,32 KJV).

What is Satan’s goal here?

It is the night of the Lord Jesus’ arrest; He has less than 24 hours left to live. In today’s Scripture, He issues some very solemn statements to His 12 Apostles. As He speaks, He bears in mind that Satan’s schemes against Him are already coming together in other parts of Jerusalem. There is worse news to come, but He does not tell His disciples yet.

According to the succeeding verses, Jesus and His Apostles will finish eating. Suddenly, and mysteriously, Judas will leave the meal. (The 11 Apostles will assume he is going out to purchase items for the feast, or to give something to the poor—John 13:21-30.) Jesus and His disciples, singing a hymn, will go out to the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:39; cf. Matthew 26:30). They will see Judas return, leading a mob, coming to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus into custody (Luke 22:47-53). In other words, this is how the 11 Apostles will learn that Judas is the traitor. As Jesus is arrested, the Bible says that all of His followers will flee in fear: “Then all his disciples forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).

During the Lord’s trial, Peter, hiding afar in the shadows, will publicly deny knowing Christ not once, not twice, but THREE times (Luke 22:53-62; cf. Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-18). Peter was the leader of the 12 Apostles (see Matthew 16:19), and often their spokesman. Now, he will gravely stumble. With one Apostle (Judas) the traitor, and another Apostle (Peter) now the denier, the remaining 10 Apostles will be severely tested to cave in as well. Potentially, all of them, being fallible humans, can permanently forsake Christ Jesus. This is a very real possibility that the Lord Jesus foresees in today’s Scripture, well in advance. His Apostles will, not surprisingly, be unfaithful. However, He reminds them that He has been loyal to them, and that, consequently, Satan will not conquer or destroy them….

Household Rules #15

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

With the Lord Jesus Christ directly revealing to Paul the Dispensation of Grace of God, we have a completed Bible. Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Apostle Peter preached in Acts 3:21 about that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul had a ministry concerned about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26). These are two totally different dispensations, never to be confused unless we want to be confused. God kept a secret, but He revealed it directly and exclusively to Paul. Without Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we lose the “household rules” God withheld from other Bible writers and holy men of old.

We see Paul as God’s spokesman to us—not Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter, Moses, John the Baptist, and so on. We realize Jesus Christ exalted in Heaven (Paul’s ministry), not just on Earth (rest of Scripture). We know we are under Grace (Paul’s ministry), not under Law (rest of Scripture). We see the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins—as our way to a right standing before God (Paul’s ministry), not other Gospel messages (rest of Scripture). We recognize our completeness in Christ (Paul’s ministry), not needing rites and rituals and ceremonies to make God happy with us (rest of Scripture). We see ourselves as the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry), not the nation Israel (rest of Scripture). We recognize the difference between mystery (Paul’s ministry) and prophecy (rest of Scripture).

If we are to know God’s will for us today, we had better pay attention to His current “household rules”—Paul’s ministry and writings! 🙂

-FINIS-

To Know Dispensational Bible Study

Saturday, November 26, 2016

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Friend, may you come to know the proper system of Bible study as God wants you to know it!

To refute the position of “Bible only” (and bolster “Bible and tradition”), Roman Catholics complain resorting to Scripture alone only leads to confusion and thousands of Protestant denominations. They argue “Sacred Tradition” must be employed to “correctly interpret” Sacred Scripture. (Of course, they ignore the profound ignorance, worse confusion, and innumerable splits within Romanism!) No, there is nothing wrong with “Bible only.” (“Bible and tradition” is faulty because these two competing authorities end up as “tradition only!”) If you use Scripture as it instructs you, recognizing and esteeming the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry, you will understand it.

Many years ago, two verses helped me grasp the Holy Scriptures. Acts 3:21 first: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” There is something God has “spoken… since the world began” (since Adam was placed on Earth). The Apostle Peter’s ministry involved this prophetic program. Now, Romans 16:25: “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,….” In stark contrast to Peter, the Apostle Paul declared his ministry involved the mystery program—truth God “kept secret since the world began,” but then revealed to Paul so he could teach us Gentiles (Romans 11:13). This eliminates the majority of Bible confusion!

Paul must never be harmonized with the rest of Scripture. Romans through Philemon, his epistles, are not to be conflated with Israel’s verses (the rest of the Bible). Christendom has experienced much trouble through the centuries because it mixed Israel and the Body of Christ, mixed law and grace, mixed heaven and earth, mixed prophecy and mystery, mixed Peter and Paul. They have not “rightly divided”—or properly separated—the dispensations (sets of instructions) God demands we differentiate. The problem is not with Scripture—it is with those misusing it!

For more information about dispensational Bible study, you may see: https://333wordsofgrace.wordpress.com/whats-dispensational-bible-study/.

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!

Broken Promises and Faithful God

Monday, May 2, 2016

“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered…. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all” (Mark 14:27,29-31 KJV).

Christian friend, boast in God’s unconditional love for you, not your fickle, weak love for Him!

It is only human nature to brag about our “great love for and devotion to Jesus.” Similarly, the Apostle Peter was so confident of himself (today’s Scripture). He promised that even when all of Jesus’ disciples would forsake Him, he never would! Jesus, knowing human weakness, told Peter he would fail. Yet, Peter argued all the more that he would not deny Him “in any wise” (not at all)—even to the point of death! The other disciples, so sure of themselves, insisted likewise. Nevertheless, just moments later, at Jesus’ arrest, all those “faithful friends” fled for fear of death (verse 50). Peter then publicly denied knowing Jesus… three times (verses 66-72)!

Brethren, no matter how much we claim to “love” Jesus, we fail. Thus, always, always, always remember that Jesus Christ loves us more than we will ever know! Our love for Him is ever so small, just a speck, and so fickle and frail; therefore, we must never, ever, ever boast about how much we “love” Jesus. We do not love Him with all of our being, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. However, He loves us with His whole being every single second, without fail or decrease. That unconditional, undying love sent Him to die on Calvary’s cross for our sins! He will never deny knowing us, but we may deny knowing Him at anytime.

In short, be so thankful to Father God that your soul salvation is dependent only upon His faithfulness to and love for you, not your faithfulness to and love for Him!