Monday, December 29, 2008

A Mediator

Today, we jump back into our study in Galatians 3:20 where it says, “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The very idea of a mediator implies that there are two parties involved. In the given of the Law, it was God and the People with Moses playing the mediator. However, when God made the covenant with Abraham, there was only one party; Himself. We see this in Genesis 15 in that God actually placed Abraham asleep and made the covenant with Himself and Abraham had nothing to do with it. In other words, God would not rely on Abraham keeping his end of the deal for Him to fulfill the covenant. It is what we call an unconditional covenant in the Bible. A conditional covenant requires both parties to comply while an unconditional only requires one.

The same can be said of the promise that Christ has given to us in salvation. It was between Christ and God who are one and the same. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ…To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself…” It is not conditional upon us keeping the Law but in Christ already doing it for us. What a deal!

Notice v.21, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Law could not give life in that it only pointed out the sinfulness of mankind.

Notice v.22, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Again, the Law could not save, only the promise that was given to Abraham that looked forward to the Seed (Jesus) could save and our faith in that promise.

On that note, I sometimes hear people say that the folks in the Old Testament were saved by keeping the Law. A thousand times, NO! They could not keep the Law. If they could have, Jesus’ death on the cross was in vain. On the contrary, those in the Old Testament were saved by their faith in looking forward to Jesus and we are saved by our faith in looking back at Jesus!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 4

Today, we are still discussing the issue of anger. Something else that I want us to remember about anger is that it can be fueled by our own imaginations. I heard one time that life is one percent reality and ninety-nine percent perception. Oh, how true that is. Any of us can look at the same situation and walk away with completely different interpretations. Why? – perception. It kind of depends upon what kind of “luggage” we bring to the party. We all have predetermined dispositions that are based upon our own life experiences.

I once read, “Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

We must be careful that we do not allow anger to destroy us. It does no good to replay scenarios in our heads. Scenarios of what should’ve, could’ve and would’ve been said or done. Instead, we must learn to yield our thoughts to the obedience of Jesus Christ and let him bring them into captivity. That’s what Paul meant when he said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” That word “arguments” in the old King James Version means “imaginations”.

We must always remember that anger is a choice. Yes, you don’t have to get upset when somebody crosses you or when something bad happens to you. You can choose to be controlled and manipulated by other people who make you upset or you can choose to disregard them. It’s always our choice in how we respond to anything. Paul said in Galatians 4:12 “Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 3

Last week we were still looking at how to overcome anger. As we mentioned, anger in and of itself is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is and it can result in other sins as well. We have already looked at the resulting sins of retaliation, cursing, slander and gossip. Today I want to encourage those of you who are struggling with these sins that you must learn to let your anger go.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” The encouragement here given by the Apostle Paul is that you must never allow the sun to go down on your anger. In other words, don’t take it to bed no matter how upset you are with each other. My wife and I don’t always agree on everything. I’m sure that many of you can identify with that. However, when it’s time to turn in for the evening, we always express our love for each other. It may be through gritted teeth, but it does happen. Why? First of all, it shows that our love is bigger than any argument that we could ever have. Second, the Bible tells us to do so. Otherwise, we would be giving place to the Devil in that area of our lives. If we are not careful, we will allow that anger to turn into bitterness. Bitterness is destructive to you and everyone around you. I believe that’s why the writer of Hebrews warns and encourages us when he says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Yes, allowing anger to seethe into our spirits causes defilement. Defilement is “to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint or debase. None of those are good by the way!

Some will say, “I have a short fuse and I can’t help myself.” That is an excuse for a lack of self-control. The writer of Proverbs 14:16-17 says, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. A quick-tempered (short fused) man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 2

Last week we started a new series on how to overcome anger. We left off discussing how that anger in and of itself is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is and it can be followed by other sins as well. The first we discussed is the sin of retaliation. The second sin that can result is cursing. Cursing is the “expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person or group.” That is certainly not very Christlike! The writer of Psalms 59:12 said, “On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which they utter.”

The third sin that may result is slander. Slander is “oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation.” Anger can certainly lead to slander. Proverbs 10:18 says, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.” Other verses include Psalms 34:13 and 1 Peter 3:10.

The fourth sin that may result is gossip. Gossip is “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” The first thing that we do when we are angry with someone is share it everyone else. That is a big no-no in the Bible. The Lord shared the method of dealing with others when we feel that we have been wronged in Matthew 18:15-17 when he said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”. That is the biblical way of handling someone who you are upset with…not by calling every person on your speed dial!

On another note, Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 2:14 that when we speak evil of someone to another person, we are actually “subverting” that person who we are speaking to. The word “subvert” means “to ruin”. We are ruining that person by making them also think evil of someone else, thus dragging them into our sin.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home Bible Study

I really do believe that the Lord would have me to start a Bible study in our home. Please help me to pray about which night of the week would be best for that. I miss the fellowship and intimacy that a home fellowship affords. Let me hear from you if this would be something that you would like to be a part of as well.

Overcoming Anger

Today, I am going to take a little detour from my normal series through the book of Galatians to speak about overcoming anger. Ephesians 4:26 says, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” There are several things that I want us to look at about anger. First, we must realize that anger in and of itself is not sin. As a matter of fact, Jesus got very angry in Matthew 21:12-13 when he “…entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves…and said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN." The point is that being angry is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is.

We must never let our anger control us. Some people say that they can’t help themselves, but that is not what the Bible teaches. On the contrary, Paul said in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Did you notice the fruit of “self-control”? That means that you can, as a fruit of the Spirit, control your anger.

If anger is left uncontrolled, it always leads to sin. I want to discuss here and in the next few articles the result of uncontrolled anger. The first result can be that of retaliation. Oh, we all know what it feels like to want to get even. We learned that on the floor of K4! “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”! However, Paul said in Romans 12:17-21 that we are to “never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men…never take your own revenge…but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Wow, I don’t know about you, but that flies in the face of my natural instincts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Purpose of the Law

Today we pick up our study in Galatians 3:19 which says, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” So, the question now is, “If the Law did not set aside or even add to the promise that God made to Abraham what was the purpose of giving it at all?” It was added because of transgressions. Sin! Romans 4:15 says, “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Also, Romans 5:20 says, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” So, the Law was to point out our falleness until the Messiah would come and offer a way to fix it. Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

An evangelist by the name of Fred Brown used three images to describe the purpose of the law. First he likened it to a dentist's little mirror, which he sticks into the patient's mouth. With the mirror he can detect any cavities. But he doesn't drill with it or use it to pull teeth. It can show him the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can't provide the solution.

Brown then drew another analogy. He said that the law is also like a flashlight. If suddenly at night the lights go out, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement stairs to the electrical box. When you point it toward the fuses, it helps you see the one that is burned out. But after you've removed the bad fuse and inserted a new one, you turn off the flashlight as that it is no longer needed.

In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumb line. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it's true to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn't use the plumb line to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw. The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn't provide a solution. Of course, the mediator spoke of in this verse is referring to Moses.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Blessing of Abraham

Today we pick up our study in Galatians 3:10-12 which says, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” You either live under the Law or you don’t. I’m humored by those who in their desire to keep one aspect of the Law for salvation completely ignore the rest. Paul is saying here that it is all or nothing.

Notice vv.13-14, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The blessing of Abraham was that through him all of the nations of the earth would be blessed. We see this promise in Genesis 12:1-3 when God said to Abraham, “…I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

First, the Messiah, our Savior, Jesus Christ was a Jew. Second, the world has been blessed even more by the Jews in that most of the breakthroughs in modern science and medicine have been because of the Jew. If you don’t believe that, go and search the web for how many Jews have won the Nobel Prize! It’s a whooping 176 recipients! They represent 23% of the total recipients since 1902 and yet they represent less than 1% of the earth’s total population. That’s phenomenal by any count.

I believe that one of the reasons God has blessed the United States of America is because of the way we have treated the Jew. While Europe, for the most part, turned their backs on the Jews when they needed them most, America did not.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Salvation by Faith

Today we pick up our study in Galatians 3:6, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now Paul compares our faith and salvation to that of Abraham. In Romans 4:9-11, the Apostle Paul tells us that Abraham’s salvation came as a result of faith and not works when he said, “…for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.”

In other words, Abraham’s circumcision took place many years after he was actually accounted righteous by God; thus works were not involved in his righteousness. We find these accounts in Genesis 15:1-6 where it was declared by God that Abraham’s faith in the promises that God had given to him had made him righteous and in Genesis 17:9-10 when the ordinance of circumcision was actually given. What we see here is that salvation by faith is not new to the New Testament. Prior to the Law, Abraham was saved by his faith as well.

Notice v.7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Have you ever heard the song, “Father Abraham had many sons and I am one them and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord.” Just as Abraham was saved by faith, so are we; thus we are the children of Abraham.

Notice v.8, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” The concept of God blessing, much less offering salvation to the Gentiles was not even an option to the Jew of Paul’s day. Yet, the Scripture says that God had a plan of salvation for the Gentiles in view even at the time of Abraham! That’s great news for us Gentiles! Jesus said in John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

Noticev.9, “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Just as God blessed Abraham because of his faith, so he will bless us as well if we have faith. Want to be blessed? – Have faith!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Editorial Backlash

A few weeks ago as I was working my way through the book of Galatians in my weekly column with the Brownsville Herald, I discussed the issue of the "Perpetual Virginity of Mary." That is the Catholic doctrine that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus. Wow, what a backlash I received from some in the community. The amazing thing is that none of them argue from the point of Scripture but chruch tradition. Jesus had much to say about placing the traditions of men over the clear teachings of the scripture.

So, is the perpetual virginity of Mary Biblical? It is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Jesus' mother Mary remained a virgin for her entire life. Is this concept Biblical? Before we get into looking at specific Scriptures, it is important to understand why the Roman Catholic Church believes in the perpetual virginity of Mary. The Roman Catholic Church views Mary as "the Mother of God" and "Queen of Heaven." Catholics believe Mary to have an exalted place in Heaven, with the closest access to Jesus and God the Father. Such a concept is nowhere taught in Scripture. Further, even if Mary did occupy such an exalted position, her having sexual intercourse would not have prevented her from gaining such a position. Sex in marriage is not sinful. Mary would have in no way defiled herself by having sexual relations with Joseph her husband. The entire concept of the perpetual virginity of Mary is based on an unbiblical teaching, Mary as Queen of Heaven, and on an unbiblical understanding of sex.

So, what does the Bible say about the perpetual virginity of Mary? Using the New American Bible, which is a Catholic translation of the Bible, we can see that the perpetual virginity of Mary is not taught in the Bible. Matthew 1:25 in the NAB tells us, "He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus." He, Joseph, did not have sexual relations with her, Mary, UNTIL after she bore a son, Jesus." The meaning of this Scripture is abundantly clear. Joseph and Mary did not have sexual relations until after Jesus was born. Matthew 13:55-56 NAB declares, "Is He not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not His sisters all with us?" Catholics claim, correctly, that the Greek terms from "brothers" and "sisters" in these verses could also refer to male and female relatives, not necessarily literal brothers and sisters. However, the intended meaning is clear, they thought Jesus to be Joseph's son, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and the brother of the unnamed and unnumbered sisters. Father, mother, brother, sister. It is straining the meaning of the text to interpret brothers and sisters as "cousins" or "relatives" with the mentioning of Jesus' mother and father.

Matthew 12:46 in the NAB tells us, "While He was still speaking to the crowds, His mother and His brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with Him." See also Mark 3:31-34; Luke 8:19-21; John 2:12; and Acts 1:14. All mention Jesus' mother with His brothers. If they were His cousins, or the sons of Joseph from a previous marriage, why were they mentioned with Mary so often? The perpetual virginity of Mary cannot be drawn from Scripture. It must be forced on Scripture, in contradiction to what the Scriptures clearly state.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Foolish Galatians

Today, we begin our study in Galatians 3:1, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” He calls them foolish because they gave in to the teaching of the false teachers. If what they believe that salvation comes by works, then the crucifixion was not necessary. Jesus said in Matthew 26:39 that “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” In other words, Jesus said, “If there is another way of salvation, don’t make me do this.” Of course, there is no other way of salvation and he was promptly arrested, tried and crucified.

Notice vv.2-3, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” He asks how they were saved initially; by faith or the Law? The answer is obviously by faith. Unfortunately, this heretical teaching still has strong roots in many churches today as well. The logical conclusion must be that if the flesh couldn’t save you, then how is it able to perfect you?”

Notice 4, “Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.” Now, he is forced to doubt their salvation. Also, in 4:11 he said, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.”

Notice v.5, “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The miracles and goodness of God; do they come from faithful keeping of the Law of Moses or by faith through the Spirit? By faith through the Spirit, of course! The Spirit was given to each of us when we heard and believed. Acts 10:44 says, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” So too, with each of us. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seeking Justification

Notice vv.17-21, “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 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. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” The bottom line is that righteousness does not come through keeping the Law of Moses. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to keep the Law of Moses. You and I simply cannot do it.

Now, some may be sitting there right now wagging their self-righteous heads and thinking to themselves, “I can keep the Law of God.” The Pharisees of Jesus’ day made the same mistake. They thought that as long as they physically kept the Law that they were okay. For example, if the Law says, “Thou shalt no commit adultery”; that meant that as long as they didn’t physically commit adultery they were okay. However, “window shopping” was okay. Then Jesus comes along and blows that view totally out of the water when he says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). That changed things considerably because who hasn’t looked with lustful eyes at another person?

That’s also why Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What Jesus was saying is that the righteousness of the Pharisees was just external while what they really needed was an internal righteousness. In other words, just keeping the Law externally (not physically committing adultery) while breaking the Law internally (lusting after others in our hearts) was still breaking the Law and thus, Heaven was not an option!

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Recordings

I have finally worked it out so that I can record my Sunday night teachings. Check it out under "Most Recent Studies". I would also like to invite you to come. We meet on Sunday evenings at 6:00pm in the Worship Center Balcony at First Baptist Church of Brownsville.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Why do bad things happen? In answering this question, I realize that there are many who have suffered a great deal of unexplainable troubles in this life and who, to this day, cannot figure out why. My attempt to answer this question is in no way intended to minimize the trouble many have endured. I’m just going to look in the Bible to see what it says about this subject. I believe these passages will explain many bad things that happen, but not all.

God allows bad things to happen for numerous reasons. One reason that they happen is so that God can demonstrate His power. A great example of this is found in the Bible in regards to the Egyptian captivity that the Israelites suffered for over four hundred years (Exodus 1-14). In speaking of this, the Apostle Paul said in Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." In essence, God allowed Pharaoh and the Egyptians to enslave the Israelites so that His power could be demonstrated in their deliverance. The longer Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the people go, the more opportunity that God had to display His power to not only the Egyptians, but to the Israelites as well.
The bottom line is that we may have to endure something bad NOW (I.e. the Jewish captivity in Egypt), so that God can be allowed to demonstrate His power LATER.

As matter of fact, later when Israel had already been delivered from the Egyptians, they came to the city of Jericho and met a harlot named Rahab who told them, “I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you…and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites…And as soon as we had heard [these things], our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he [is] God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

Friday, October 17, 2008

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Someone has calculated how a typical lifespan of 70 years is spent.

Sleep................23 years...........32.9%
Work.................16 years...........22.8%
TV....................8 years...........11.4%
Eating................6 years............8.6%
Travel................6 years............8.6%
Leisure.............4.5 years............6.5%
Illness...............4 years............5.7%
Dressing..............2 years............2.8%
Religion............0.5 years (6 months) 0.7%

Total................70 years............100%

Justification By Faith

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:16 where it says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” This is a clear cut presentation of justification by faith. It simply means that justification, or being made right before God, comes about only by faith and not by works. That means that there is absolutely nothing you or I can do to “earn” it. I find it interesting that Paul spent so much of his time on this subject throughout his writings. Obviously it was a major concern to him. Unfortunately, most today also believe that they have to do something to “earn” God’s love and forgiveness. Just ask anyone around you what they think that it takes for a person to go to Heaven. The answer will invariably be something like; “go to church”, “be a good person”, “respect my fellow man,” and the list goes on and on. Sadly, it is a sure sign that they haven’t got a clue about justification by faith.

Paul’s point in this passage is simple. If the Jew had to leave the Law behind in order to be justified by faith, why should the Gentile be brought under the Law? After all, it didn’t save the Jew and it certainly wasn’t going to save the Gentile either. Paul will later say in Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” That very verse alone played a major role in the start of the Protestant Reformation.

The bottom line is that too many people are running around trying to gain favor with God. I must remind you that God said in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” My friend, don’t continue to think that your salvation depends upon you. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God looked down through the portals of time, and out of love, decided to save you: not because of who you are but because of who He is!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peter's Hypocrisy

Let’s pick up our study this week in Galatians 2:11-14, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Peter was playing the hypocrite by withdrawing from the Gentiles when his Jewish buddies would show up. I think that Paul found this particularly disturbing since Peter was the first to be used of God to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Acts 10.

By definition, hypocrisy is “a feigning to be what one is not, a concealment of one's real character or motives, or one who assumes a false appearance.” How many of us have not done that? It reminds me of a story about King Louis XIV. Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, "What does this mean?" Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king."

We must be careful that we are not the same way. It’s so easy to pretend and God absolutely despises it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many have told me that the reason they don’t go to church is because of the number of hypocrites that are found there. Yet, that same person will deal with hypocrites every day at work and sees no problem in taking their money. As a pastor, my response to these poor delusional souls was always, “Hey, one more will not hurt! Can I look forward to seeing you Sunday?”

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ten Days


The other night in my Revelation discipleship class at FBC, we came to the portion of Scripture in Revelation 2 where it says in v.10, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested and you will have tribulation for ten days." The question arose about the "ten days". Most commentaries (I.e. John MacArthur) say that "ten days" simply represents a short period of persecution. However, Tim LaHaye has a very interesting take on it that one of my students pointed out. He says that there were ten persecutions: eight of which the Church of Smyrna had to endure. Check out the ten persecutions that he lists. Could each one of these represent one of the "ten days"?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Adjustments and Announcements

You may notice that I removed several links for my site. I am in the process of reformatting them and downloading them to this website. I'll get them back up plus many more as I can. I've also began a Discipleship Class at First Baptist Church. I'll begin recording those this Sunday in MP3 format and uploading them. God bless each of you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Little Harsh

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:6, “But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:” In this verse, Paul is referring to the apostles whom he had never sought in regards to the revelations that he had received after his conversion on the Damascus Road in Acts 9. At first glance, it seems a little harsh. However, most believe that the literal translation is a little harsher than what Paul really meant for it to be. He is just stating that they agreed with him and acknowledged that all men are the same before God. Paul had no hostility toward the other apostles as the verse would seem to indicate.

Notice vv.7-8, “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jews) was unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)” Paul was known as the apostle to the Gentiles while Peter was known as the apostle to the Jews. However, it was the same gospel. Gentiles aren’t saved one way and Jews another.

Notice v.9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” Again, the translation about them “seeming to be pillars” is a little harsh. He is simply saying that an agreement was made about who was to go with whom.

Notice v.10, “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” Part of the agreement was also that the poor should be remembered. Jesus had a very special place in his heart for the poor. He said in Mark 14:7, “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.” James also said in James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Bondage of Legalism

Let’s pick up our study again today in Galatians 2:4-5 where Paul is speaking of those who were trying to put them back under the Law of Moses. Jesus told the Pharisees in Matt 23:25 you are “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” I read an illustration several years ago that comes back to mind as I think of what is like to trying to live under the Law. It goes something like this, “Professional golfer Tommy Bolt was playing in Los Angeles and had a caddy with a reputation of constant chatter. Before they teed off, Bolt told him, "Don't say a word to me. And if I ask you something, just answer yes or no." During the round, Bolt found the ball next to a tree, where he had to hit under a branch, over a lake and onto the green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees and sized up the shot. What do you think?" he asked the caddy. "Five-iron?" "No, Mr. Bolt," the caddy said. "What do you mean, not a five-iron?" Bolt snorted. "Watch this shot." The caddy rolled his eyes. "No-o-o, Mr. Bolt." But Bolt hit it and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the five-iron and said, "Now what do you think about that? You can talk now." "Mr. Bolt," the caddy said, "that wasn't your ball." Yep, that about sums it up! Legalism takes all of the fun out of being a child of the King.

Some say today that you have to keep the Sabbath to be saved. Well, what about the rest of the Law: sacrificing animals for sins, stoning fornicators, etc… Why just that one? Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1-4, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing…every man that is circumcised…is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” In other words, you either live under the Law or accept the completed work of Christ on Calvary when He kept the Law for you. You can’t do one without forfeiting the other.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Feature

My son Dane, who knows infinitely more about computers than I will ever know, placed a "Followers" gadget at the bottom of my blog. Click it and register if you would like to automatically receive notices when I update the blog. God bless each of you!

Our Liberty

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 2:3 where it says, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.” This verse speaks to the fact that circumcision was deemed not necessary in order for the Gentiles (anyone that is not a Jew) to obtain for salvation. That was decided at the council that took place in Jerusalem in Acts 15. It essentially established that salvation was not by keeping the works of the law, but by grace alone.



Notice vv.4-5, “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” The false brethren spoken of here are those who had questioned the new found “liberty” from the law that was now theirs in Christ.



Obviously, in Paul’s ministry, he had met a lot of these guys. He spoke of them in 2 Corinthians 11:26 when he said that he had suffered at the hands of “false brethren.” Make no mistake about it. They are still around today. Peter spoke of them in 2 Peter 2:1-3 when he said, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.”



With that in mind, what is our liberty? No more bondage to the Law (3:25, 5:1, 4:9)! In contrast to the two commands of Christ, (love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself), the Pharisees had developed a system of 613 laws, 365 negative commands and 248 positive laws. Unfortunately, by the time the Lord Jesus came it had produced a heartless, cold, and arrogant brand of righteousness. As such, it contained at least ten tragic flaws. (1) New laws continually need to be invented for new situations. (2) Accountability to God is replaced by accountability to men. (3) It reduces a person's ability to personally discern. (4) It creates a judgmental spirit. (5) The Pharisees confused personal preferences with divine law. (6) It produces inconsistencies. (7) It created a false standard of righteousness. (8) It became a burden to the Jews. (9) It was strictly external. (10) It was rejected by Christ.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Desert Theological Seminary

Today, we are going to pickup in Galatians chapter 2. This chapter is very interesting to me in that we find Paul comparing the gospel that he had been preaching with the gospel that the apostles had been preaching to see if they were the same. Remember that Paul had not sat under anyone’s teaching, but had received his training at what I like to call Desert Theological Seminary (that’s the time that he spent in the desert after his conversion experience in Acts 9). It was apparently then that he received much of his knowledge of who Jesus really was and what he was to then do about it.

Notice v.1, “Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.” “Then after fourteen years” means that Paul had not been there since his last visit in 2:18 right after his conversion. We do know that Paul did return to Jerusalem with the “collection for the saints” in Acts 11:27-30, but because he did not meet with the apostles at that time; he did not refer to them here.

Many feel that this occasion was the same occasion as recorded in Acts 15 with the Jerusalem Council that concluded that the Gentiles did not need to be circumcised. That being the case, Titus was exhibit A at that council meeting as proof that the Gentiles were being saved even though they had not been circumcised according to Jewish law as given by Moses in the Old Testament.

Notice v.2, “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Again, Paul wanted to make sure that the revelation that he had received while at DTS (Desert Theological Seminary) about grace was the same as that of the apostles. If circumcision and law were required for salvation, Paul had been preaching the wrong gospel. We also see some humility in Paul and that’s a far cry from where he was before his conversion, when by his own admonition, he was an arrogant and insolent man like many of us before we got saved. However, those attributes certainly should not mark our lives since we have come to Christ. Both are sinful.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Updates

I just realized today that many of the links off of my blog are not working. This is because the website that they were hosted on changed domain names. I am in the process of pulling them up one at a time and reposting them directly on my site. Some of them are complete already. Bear in mind that anything that has a link through www.borderlandcc.org does not work now. I'll get them all up and working as soon as I can. God bless each of you.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jesus' Family

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 1:18 where it says, “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” As we discussed last week, from the time of Paul’s conversion until the time he arrived in Jerusalem was three years because he was not seeking their approval.

Notice vv.19-20, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, Paul also sees an apostle that he refers to as "James, the Lord's brother." The Lord had brothers? Hang on now; I’m going to get a little controversial here; but that’s okay, I’ve got the Bible on my side. One of the most unsubstantiated and contradictory doctrines espoused by the Roman Catholic Church is the perpetual virginity of Mary. This doctrine teaches that Mary never had any other children after Jesus. However, the Bible clearly teaches that Mary and Joseph had more children after Jesus. In actuality, Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters. It says in Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” I’m sure that some are offended at me right now as well.

To further press the point, the Bible also tells us that Jesus’ brothers were married. It says in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” Notice that it says “the brethren of the Lord”. That is not referring to spiritual brethren but biological. Also, the Bible says that his brothers had a hard time believing in him as the Messiah. In John 7:1-9 it says, “…His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.” They were literally daring Jesus to go Judea: to his own hurt of course. These were Jesus’ brothers. My grandmother used to tell me, “Son, as long as you have family, you’ll never lack for enemies.” The older I get, the more I realize how true that is!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Call to Ministry

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 1:16b-17 where it says that after Paul’s conversion to Christ that he “…did not immediately consult with flesh and blood nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.” The first thing that I want us to notice is that God called Paul and not man. Paul didn’t have to go up to Jerusalem and ask the most eminent apostles (Peter, John, James, etc…) what they thought. He “knew that he knew” that he was indeed called by God to the ministry. I’ve met many a man over the years that simply did not feel comfortable in their “calling”. They waffled back and forth unsure as to “who” had called them into ministry. I had an old preacher tell me one time, “If you can do anything else but preach; do us all a favor and do it!” We must make sure that we are doing what God called us to and not what we or man wants us to do. In the end, God will only bless it if He ordained it.

The second thing that I want us to notice is that Paul “went away to Arabia” after his calling. What was that about? Maybe Paul just needed some “alone time” with God. After all, he had been killing the very ones that he was confessing to now be a part of! I’m sure that he had to get a few things settled. Sometimes I wish that I could disappear into the desert for a while myself!

We are not sure how long Paul was in the desert, but we do know that from the time of his conversion until the time he arrived in Jerusalem to visit with the other apostles was three years. That’s a lot time alone with God!

This is a recurring theme in the Bible. God takes those whom He wants to use into the desert. I.e. Moses before he led the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-6). Elijah before he had to confront wicked Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 19). Finally, Jesus to prepare him for the cross that he was about to face (Matthew 4:1-11). Are you in the desert? What is God preparing you for? We must learn to look at desert places as preparation places.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Paul's Past Life

Let’s pick it up today in Galatians 1:13-14, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” Now Paul begins to share how zealous he was in the “Jew’s religion.” Of course, he was referring to Judaism. As a matter of fact, he was so zealous that he persecuted the early Christians more so than anyone else his equal. It was true too. It is estimated that Paul hand a consenting hand in the killing of at least 10,000 Christians before his conversion to Christ. You could say that he was the crem-de-la-crem of his class!

To that end, he also stated in Philippians 3:5-6 that he was “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” We also know from Acts 7:54-8:3 that Paul had a hand in the stoning of Stephen. I think that all of that would have made him pretty zealous.

But something happened to change all of that. Notice vv.15-16a that say, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;” That calling came on the Damascus Road in Acts 9:1-6. Have you ever felt that God couldn’t love you because of the person you’ve been? Saul did far more evil than most and yet God still loved him.

The Bible promises in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” You see, it doesn’t how many bad things that you’ve done; God can still forgive you if you simply come to him with a broken and contrite heart and ask Him to do so! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Not After Man

Today, we pick up our study in Galatians 1:11-12 where it says, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Paul is reminding them that the gospel message he preached did not come from men, but God. In other words, he got it directly from God. As you may remember, after Paul’s conversion experience in Acts 9, he tells the Galatians, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days” (Galatians 1:15-18). In other words, he didn’t immediately go and ask others what they thought or felt about Jesus Christ. Instead, he went out into the wilderness and spent time with God to receive the message of who Jesus Christ was for himself.

It should be the same for you and me as well. Yes, we need to seek the counsel of others at times. However, sometimes we just need to wait on the Lord to see what He would have us to do. The Bible says in Isaiah 30:21 in regards to decisions in our lives, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” Simply put, our friends and family do not have all of the answers all of the time. There are situations in life that only you and God can sort out.

I believe that we are far too quick to seek counsel from people who really are not qualified to give it to us. A lady came into my office one day and said that she had already watched Ophra and Dr. Phill but they could not help her with her problem. Sadly, the church was her last resort. God should have been her first.

Slave of Christ

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 1:10, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” The word “persuade” means to “make a friend of” or to “seek the favor of”. Examples of this are found in I Thessalonians 2:4 where Paul says, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” Also in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;” Pleasing God should be the top priority in our lives. Pleasing Him comes before pleasing others and even ourselves. We must come to grips with the fact that the preaching of the gospel is not pleasing to lost man and it never will be. As a matter of fact, it’s about the quickest way I’ve found to lose and establish friendships.

Notice “the servant of Christ.” The word servant here can be better translated as “bondservant.” A bondservant was no ordinary servant. We see this in the Old Testament where the Law stated that all Hebrew slaves where to be set free after six years of service (Exodus 21:2). However, there were times when the slave could decide to stay with his master for one reason or another. It says in Exodus 21:5-6, “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.” Thus the servant would become a bondservant in that he served his master willingly. That’s why Paul said in Romans 6:22, “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Paul realized that the “freedom” that he had in the world was nothing to be compared with the “slavery” he had in Christ.

An Angel From Heaven

Let’s pick up our study today in Galatians 1:8-9, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” It doesn’t matter who preaches it, if it is contrary to the Bible and the gospel it contains, it’s wrong. And the messenger of that wrong gospel will be judged. It’s just that people can be very vulnerable because someone or something looks “religious”.

We see examples of this in the Bible. One such example is in the book of Job when he was speaking with Eliphaz where it says, “Now a thing was secretly brought to me…In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, Fear came upon me, and trembling…Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up: It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice, saying, Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker? (Job 4:12-17). Arrogant Eliphaz is saying that he supposedly received something from a “spirit” that told him that Job was not just before God. It sounded very spiritual, but it was completely off base because Job 1:1 had already said, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”

Another example happened in 1823 when an angel appeared to a guy named Joe who lived in New York. While Joe lay in bed, this angel revealed to him where he would find a new revelation. The new revelation was inscribed on golden plates that he dug up and transcribed. It is now one of the largest cults in the United States. The only problem is that the message of the plates totally contradicts the Bible and who Jesus said he was. Jesus said that he was God in the flesh and not a created being like Satan. Again, we see a guy who claimed to have a supernatural message, but not the message of the Bible.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Three Views of the Rapture, Part 3

The Post-Tribulation View
The first of these views to be covered is what is called the Post-Tribulation view. This view asserts that the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation in conjunction with the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation 19.

Those who support this view will go to a verse like John 16:33 as a proof text for their position where it says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Their position would be that God has called the church suffer and that the sufferings of the Tribulation period will be just one more time of suffering that will come upon the church.

I must admit that it is true that God does promise that His Church will suffer through grave tribulation and persecution and be preserved through it. History is replete with examples of this fact. One need only pick up a modern history book or a copy of “Foxes Book of Martyrs”[1] to see this.

However, the problem here is that the advocates of this position are not accurately dividing Scripture. Even if their premise is accurate; their conclusion is wrong.

Their premise is that verses like John 16:33 and others like it are proof that the church has always endured and outlasted all persecution that has ever come against it and will continue to do so right on through the Great Tribulation that is to come upon the earth with the revealing of the Antichrist.

They will quickly add that the Church was built and has been sustained with the blood of the martyrs and that tribulation and hard times is what makes the Church strong and purified and that God has promised that the Church will always overcome all opposition that comes against it. They would insist that the very thought of a Rapture prior to this great time of persecution is escapism.

They will use verses like Matthew 16:18 where Jesus said to Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” This verse definitely promises that the Church of Jesus Christ will suffer and will always prevail no matter what Satan throws against it.

Another verse they use would include Revelation 2:10 which says, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This verse is also correct in that the devil has indeed been behind the persecution of God’s people through the ages.

However, there are major problems with this view that must be addressed. The largest of which is that those who hold to it are confusing persecution with wrath. The dictionary says that persecution is “the act or practice of persecuting on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs that differ from those of the persecutor.”[2] However, wrath is defined as is defined as “punishment or vengeance as a manifestation of anger or divine retribution for sin.”[3] There is a major difference between the two.

Yes, the Bible does say that God will not allow any type of persecution to overwhelm and destroy the church that Christ has established and bought and paid for through His sacrificial death on the cross, but the Tribulation has nothing to do with persecution. It has everything to do with the wrath of God on Christ-rejecting, sinful man. With that the argument loses steam.

The Tribulation is God’s wrath being poured out on an unbelieving world with whom He gave opportunity after opportunity to accept the gift of forgiveness through faith in His precious Son, Jesus, but they would not.

The time of Tribulation that is to come upon this earth is not about the persecution of God’s people, but the wrath of God against those who persecuted God’s people. Neither is it considered to be intended as a purification process for the people of God.

Some proof texts for this include Revelation 6:16-17 which says, “And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" The Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath, not persecution of the Church.

The book of Revelation also calls it the time of God’s wrath in 19:15 where it says, “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Again, this is the time of God’s wrath on a Christ-rejecting world led by the Antichrist.

The Bible also teaches that the children of God are not appointed to this wrath that is to be poured out during this time because it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is also taught in Romans 5:9 where it says, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Here is a verse that promises the Church that it will be kept from this time of wrath because of our justification.

Another verse from many would also include 1 Thessalonians 1:10 which says, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” Here is a promise of deliverance from the time of wrath that is to come for the Church.

Clearly the Bible teaches that there is a great difference between the persecutions that are inflicted upon the church from within and without in the past, present, and even the future, that He Himself will bring upon sinful man during the Tribulation period.

Another major problem with this view is that it makes it possible to predict the Rapture even though Jesus said that it is not possible. He said in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

To say that the Lord is going to Rapture the Church at the Second Coming makes it possible know the exact timing of the Rapture because the Second Coming will be a predictable event at this point in the Tribulation.

This will be possible at that time because we know that the duration of the Tribulation will be seven years in length and that the Second Coming will be three and half years after the breaking of the covenant by the Antichrist with the children of Israel.

If this view is correct, Scriptures such as Matthew 24:36 are rendered void. The lesson here is that one can not excuse one portion of Scripture to justify another. That is bad hermeneutics.

This position also serves to remove the purpose for the imminent return of Christ. It is the imminent return of Christ that pushes and encourages the child of God to live a pure life because he has no idea when His Master will return.

If the Rapture can be determined that it is to take place at such and such a time, there would be no encouragement for Christians to live a righteous and holy life that is constantly prepared for the time when Jesus calls His Church home.

This is seen in what Jesus said in Matthew 24:42-44 when He said, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

One need only look into the lives of the many who hold this position to see that they are not living like today could be the day of the Lord’s return!

[1] Foxe, John. The New Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. (Gainesville, Florida: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2001).

[2] http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=persecution
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=wrath

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Lord's Leading

For those of you who have been praying for my family and I and the next step that the Lord has for us, our prayers have been anwered. Effective August 11, Jannett and I will be teachers at the First Baptist School in Brownsville, Texas. Jannett taught there three years ago and made lasting friendships while I have enjoyed a close friendship with Pastor Steve Dorman of the First Baptist Church for at least six years.

Jannett will be teaching Secondary Spanish and I will be teaching Secondary Bible and History. Our positions will also afford us many other opportunties to ministry with our boys, Dane and Brandon. We could not have asked for anything more of the Lord. He has been very gracious and we are looking forward to what He has in store for us.

Continue to keep us in prayer that we will be able to serve Him effectively in these ministry positions to reach the hearts and minds of the young people that He will entrust to us.

In other great news, this position will also still afford me opportunities to travel, speak and write. I'm really looking forward to sharing in some of your churches!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Three Views of the Rapture, Part 2

The Timing of the Rapture

With the establishment of the fact of a Rapture, we must now turn to the timing of this great event. Unfortunately, for the past two-thousand years there has been great disagreement and confusion in the church over the timing of the Rapture.

Today, among those who agree that the Rapture is a yet future event to occur, there are three major views that must be considered. All of these views agree that it’s going to happen, but they disagree as to when it is going to happen.

The first of these views to be covered is what is called the Post-Tribulation view. This view asserts that the Rapture will occur after the Tribulation in conjunction with the Second Coming of Christ in Revelation 19.

The second of these views is what is called the Mid-Tribulation view. This view asserts that the Rapture will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation Period around the time of the Antichrist’s backing out of the seven year agreement with Israel.

The third and final of these views is what is called the Pre-Tribulation view. This view asserts that the Rapture will occur at the close of the church age and will be the event that ushers in the Tribulation.

Each of these three views will be discussed in detail with the merits of each moving along from the Post-Tribulation view, to the Mid-Tribulation view, and the Pre-Tribulation view.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Three Views of the Rapture, Part 1

The Fact of the Rature

First, we must look at the fact of the Rapture. Many have argued, rightfully so, that the word Rapture is not even found in the Bible. Well, neither is the word trinity or grandfather, but no one is in doubt as to there existence. So that argument simply does not hold any water in the discussion of the subject at hand.

While the word Rapture does not exist in our English Bible, the Greek word “harpazo” does. We find this word in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 were it says, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” The word for “caught” in verse 17 is the Greek word “harpazo” with means to seize, catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). [1]

We also see the fact of the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 were it says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

There are also places in Scripture were we see foreshadows of the Rapture in the Old Testament. The first of which is in the “taking” of Enoch in Genesis 5:24. The Bible says that “…Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Enoch was quite literally raptured because of his unique relationship with his God. God decided to transport Enoch directly to Heaven without first having him taste death. This same thing will happen to all of those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ one day because of our special relationship with God.

We see it again in the life of the prophet, Elijah. The Bible tells us in 2 Kings 2:11-12, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!" So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.”

So, we too as children of God have a unique place in God’s economy and one day He will come back and take us home with Him. It was a promise that He made in John 14:2-3 when He said, “In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

These instances are a foreshadowing of a yet future event when millions of Christians will suddenly and seemingly without notice be caught away into Heaven without every tasting death. This event is called the Rapture.

[1] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Here

Wow! I thought that the wind would never stop blowing. It started Wednesday morning around 2:00am and stopped last night around midnight. There are trees all over the place here in Rancho Viejo. I got a chance to run to the store this morning. We just got our electricity back about an hour ago. We still have no cell phones for some reason. So, if you're trying to call us, leave a message or shot me an email.

God bless each of you and I truly to appreciate your prayers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Storm Update

Jannett and I have received numerous call from friends and family that are worried about us with Hurricane Dolly knocking on our front door down here in South Texas. So far, things are just fine. The missions teams from Andrews and Corpus Christi opted not to go back into Mexico and wait it out at Borderland and are doing fine. They probably will not be able to return to Mexico until at least Thursday I would suspect.

The weather service is not projecting the storm to reach higher than a Category 2 at this point. I think that our biggest problem will be the continuous rain that they are expecting over the next three days. It will be especially tough on our brothers in Mexico. Please keep them in your prayers.

God bless each of you!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Works

Last week, we left off discussing Galatians 1:6-7 which says, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Grace is “unmerited favor.” However, we have a tendency to corrupt everything. And with grace, the Bible addresses two problems that we as sinful humans introduce. First, we tend to abuse it. I’ve heard people say, “If I'm saved by grace, not by my works, then I can sin all I want!" No, it does not work that way. Those are teachings of the ungodly. Jude said in Jude 4 “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Second, we tend to think that we must perform religious rituals and obey rules and regulations in order to be deserving of it. In the New Testament, men who thought this way were called Judaizers. These men taught that faith in Christ was not sufficient in itself, but that one must keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised. They believed in salvation in Jesus Christ, but taught that the Law must be kept as well to maintain it.

That attitude is still very common in the church today. Judgments are made against people who enter the doors of the church all the time. "Look at him - he needs a haircut!” “Look at her – she needs to learn how to dress!” Hey! I thought that grace was undeserved? It is not that we take the first few steps, and then God jumps in. It is that God is the initiator. Just look in the Garden of Eden at the fall of Adam and Eve. God had to seek reconciliation with Adam. Instead of coming to God and saying, “I’m sorry”, Adam hid himself.

And so the message of the Judaizers was very dangerous. It was not the gospel. It was a different gospel. And today, too many are preaching a similar gospel - which is really no gospel at all. It is a message of good works to earn salvation, good works to deserve salvation, and good works to keep salvation.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grace Abuse

Let’s pick up our study in Galatians 1:4 where it says of Jesus: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” The bottom line is that God allowed His only Son to be killed so that we could be delivered out of this present evil age. All around us, the world is going to Hell. I.e. murders and massacres, child abuse and drug abuse, witchcraft and Satanism, alcoholism and AIDS. This world that we live in has been, and will continue to become, more and more evil, but the good news is that God's grace is offered to us to deliver us from this. The question is, “Will you accept it?”

Notice v.5 which says, “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Paul writes, "to God be the glory." We can’t take any of the credit. There was nothing that we did to qualify us for salvation.

Notice vv.6-7, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Remember that grace is God's unmerited favor upon us. It is the fact that God: a. loved us when we despised Him; b. adopted us as His children anyway; c. sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins before we even knew we had sins; d. gave us everything when we deserved nothing (Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5; Romans 5:6)!

However, as human beings we have a tendency to corrupt everything. And with grace, the Bible addresses two problems that we as sinful humans introduce. First, we tend to abuse grace. I’ve heard people say, “If I'm saved by grace, not by my works, then I can sin all I want!" No, it does not work that way, my friend. Those are teachings of the ungodly. Jude said in Jude 4 “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” We will discuss the second problem next week which is that we tend to want to maintain it by works or good deeds.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Fond Farewell

After serving the people of Borderland Calvary Chapel for ten years, it is now time for me to step aside and follow the Lord’s bidding to my next assignment. It’s hard to believe that it has actually been ten years, but it has. We arrived in San Benito, Texas in March of 1998. My boys who are now 13 and 14 years old were then only 3 and 4. They have grown up in San Benito and it’s all they know. They have no memories of their birthplace and my home in Greenville, South Carolina or of our time spent on the mission field as a family in Zacapa, Guatemala. San Benito has become our home.

As a family, San Benito has been very good to us. We have watched our boys grow and had the privilege of being a part of this community. We have also met many people whom we will never forget. You know who you are and you will be missed tremendously. I know that the Lord had and has a reason for our getting to know one another.

As for the next step, we are still seeking the Lord’s will in that one. He has graciously laid out before us several opportunities that range from South America to both coasts of the United States. We are following through with each of them and know that He will make His will perfectly known to us before it is over. Yes, sometimes I wish that He would just text me or give me a call that would make the decision much easier and faster, but that is not the way God works with His children. It’s also the greatest and sometimes the toughest part of following the Lord. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” God requires us to live by faith. No exceptions.

I’m also reminded of what God told Abraham in Genesis 12:1 when He said, “…Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.” In other words, God’s requirement for Abraham was for him to “get out” before He would reveal to him where He would have him to go. That takes faith; which is exactly what God is looking for and expects from all of us. So, please keep my family and I in your prayers as we too step out for a “land” that we know that He will show us.

For those of you who want to keep up with us, you can visit my new website at www.dwaynespearman.org to get the latest information, keep up with my articles, teachings and other happenings in our lives. We would also love to hear from you as well and how we can continue pray for you and your family.

Also, please keep Pastor Greg Rangel and his family in your prayers as they step in to take over Borderland Calvary Chapel and take it into the future. I have every confidence that God has called him and his family to do this and will provide for him just as he provided for me. I encourage the people of Borderland to support and love him as they have me for the past ten years and I know that God will continue to bless.

I would also encourage you, the reader, to check out what the Lord is doing at Borderland Calvary Chapel. Pastor Greg is fluent in Spanish and has started a 9:00am Spanish service followed by the 11:00am English service. In that way, your entire family can be ministered to. Take the time to check it out. I know that you will be blessed! He too will teach the Word of God chapter by chapter and verse by verse which has become the trademark of all Calvary Chapels. The vision will also continue with San Benito Christian Academy now accepting K3 to K5 for the 2008/2009 school year.

With that, I bid you a fond farewell and leave you with the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

CC Coastlands

I had the opportunity to teach at Calvary Chapel of the Coastlands in Corpus Christi, Texas the other night. My topic was "Hearing the Voice of God." Check it out and be blessed!

Thanks!

I just want to take a moment to thank everyone of you who have lifted up prayers on our behalf. As most of you already know, I resigned as Senior Pastor from Borderland Calvary Chapel on July 1st. My last day will be on August 3rd. We have served that body of believers for the past ten years. During that time, God has indeed truly blessed us and done so many wonderful things through that ministry. God raised up a body of believers that it has truly been a pleasure to serve. Of course, as most of you that are close to me are very aware, it has not always been a walk in the park! The old Devil was not always so pleased with our progress. However, I believe that God's will has always prevailed.

Pastor Greg Rangel stepped in on July 1 and I know that he will do an awesome job. He truly has a beautiful family and a heart for ministry. Please keep him in your prayers as well.

We have had several opportunities to consider as our next step. Thus far we have "ran" most of them down but we just don't see God leading us in those directions yet.

Please keep us in your prayers and we will update you as soon as the Lord "parks" us somewhere.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Promises of God

Today, we pick up our study in Galatians 3:20 where it says, “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The very idea of a mediator implies that there are two parties involved. In the given of the Law, it was God and the People with Moses playing the mediator. By the way, mediator is king of like a middleman. However, when God made the covenant with Abraham, there was only one party; Himself. We see this in Genesis 15 in that God actually placed Abraham asleep and made the covenant with Himself and Abraham had nothing to do with it.

The same can be said of the promise that Christ has given to us in salvation. It was between Christ and Christ, who is God. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” It is not conditional upon us keeping the Law.

Notice v.21, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Law could not give life in that it only pointed out the sinfulness of mankind.

Notice v.22, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Again, the Law could not save, only the promise that was given to Abraham that looked forward to the Seed could save and our faith in that promise. Those in the Old Testament looked forward to Jesus while those of us in the New Testament look back at Jesus. Enoch even looked past the first coming of Jesus and saw the second (Jude 14).

Notice vv.23-25, “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” The Law simply tutored us until Christ came and justified us by faith. The Law showed us that we needed a Savior!

Many times, if not most of the time, God does not give us things until we have learned to appreciate them. It reminds me of a little boy who came to his father one day and asked to borrow the car. The father replied that the boy could borrow the car only after he cut his long hair. The boy responded by saying that Jesus had long hair. The father responded by letting his son know that Jesus walked everywhere He went too! Things have changed. We are no longer bound by the law!

Notice v.26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” “Children” literally means “sons”.

Notice v.27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is not referring to water baptism but Spirit baptism. The act of baptism denotes dedication to the service of him in whose name we are baptized. We see an example of this in the Old Testament with Moses. It says in 1 Corinthians 10:2, “And all were baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea…” That means that they became consecrated, or dedicated, or bound to him as their leader and lawgiver. So, we see the same thing here. We see the same in 1 Corinthians 12:13 where it says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Notice v.28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are all simply followers of Christ and are all one in Him. It says in Romans 10:12 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.” Fortunately, God is not bias like we are.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Purpose of the Law

Today, we pick up our study in Galatians 3:15, “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.” He compares the contracts that between man with the contract that He had with Abraham.

Notice v.16, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” The promise referred to here is found in Genesis 22:16-18 where it says, “And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” The Seed referred to here is the Messiah.

Notice v.17, “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” The promise to Abraham was given 430 years before the giving of the Law, so the Law has no bearing on the promise.

Notice v.18, “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” In other words, if the inheritance that was promised was conditional upon the Law than it was not a promise at all.

Notice v.19, “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” So, the question now is, “If the Law did not set aside or even add to the promise that God made to Abraham what was the purpose of giving it at all?” It was added because of transgressions. Sin! Romans 4:15 says, “Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” Also, Romans 5:20 says, “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” So, the Law was to point out our falleness until the Messiah would come and offer a way to fix it. Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Evangelist Fred Brown used three images to describe the purpose of the law. First he likened it to a dentist's little mirror, which he sticks into the patient's mouth. With the mirror he can detect any cavities. But he doesn't drill with it or use it to pull teeth. It can show him the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can't provide the solution.

Brown then drew another analogy. He said that the law is also like a flashlight. If suddenly at night the lights go out, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement stairs to the electrical box. When you point it toward the fuses, it helps you see the one that is burned out. But after you've removed the bad fuse and inserted a new one, you turn off the flashlight as that it is no longer needed.

In his third image, Brown likened the law to a plumb line. When a builder wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it's true to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn't use the plumb line to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw. The law points out the problem of sin; it doesn't provide a solution. Of course, the mediator spoke of in this verse is referring to Moses.

Notice v.20, “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The very idea of a mediator implies that there are two parties involved. Of course, in the given of the Law, it was God and the People with Moses playing the mediator. However, when God made the covenant with Abraham, there was only one party; Himself (Genesis 15).

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Salvation of Abraham

Let’s pick up our study this week in Galatians 3:6, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now Paul compares our faith and salvation to that of Abraham. Romans 4:1-12 tells us that Abraham’s salvation came as a result of grace and not works. It’s interesting to note that Abraham’s circumcision took place many years after he was actually accounted righteous by God; thus works were not involved in his righteousness but faith. What we see here is that salvation by grace is not new to the New Testament. Prior to the Law, Abraham was saved by his faith. Bottom line is that Abraham’s righteousness did not come by circumcision but by faith. The same can be said of you and me. We are not made righteous before God, maybe men, but not God, by our works. It’s only through our faith that we have obtained righteousness.

Notice v.7, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” Have you ever heard the children’s song, “Father Abraham”? It says, “Father Abraham had many sons and I am one them and so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord.” Just as Abraham was saved by faith, so are we; thus we are children of Abraham.

Notice v.8, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” God had the Gentiles (if you are not a Jew, you are a Gentile) in view even then.

Notice v.9, “So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Just as God blessed Abraham because of his faith, so he will bless us.

Notice vv.10-12, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” You either live under the Law or you don’t. I’m humored by Seventh Day Adventism in their desire to keep one aspect of the Law for salvation while ignoring the rest. Paul is saying here that it is all or nothing.

Notice vv.13-14, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The blessing of Abraham was “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” We see this in Genesis 12:1-3 when God said to Abraham, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” And surely the nations of the earth have been blessed because of the Jew.

First and foremost, the Messiah, our Savior, Jesus Christ was a Jew. Second, the world has been blessed even more by the Jews in that most of the breakthroughs in modern science and medicine have been because of the Jew. If you don’t believe that, go and search the web for how many Jews have won the Nobel Prize! It’s a whooping 176 recipients! They represent 23% of the total recipients since 1902 and yet they represent less than 1% of the Earth’s total population. That’s phenomenal by any count. The only way that you can explain that is the blessings of God.

I believe that one of the reasons God has blessed the United States of America is because of the way we have treated the Jew. While Europe, for the most part, turned their backs on the Jews when they needed them most, America did not. God blesses those who bless His people. It’s as simple as that!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

O Foolish Galatians!

Let’s pick up our study in the book of Galatians today in v.1, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” He calls them foolish because they gave in to the teaching of the false teachers. They had begun to believe that their salvation was conditioned upon faith plus something else. That’s fatal! Listen, my friend, if you think that you have to do something more than place your faith in the completed work of Christ upon the cross to gain salvation, you are no longer trusting in Christ to save you. You are trusting in yourself!

It reminds me of Jesus in the Garden just prior to his crucifixion when he prayed, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” What Jesus was saying in essence was, “If there is another way of salvation for these people, don’t make me do this.” The human side of Jesus did not want to go to the cross. Of course, there is no other way of salvation and he was promptly arrested, tried and crucified. That was His Father’s answer.

And yet, many run around today thinking that they have to be baptized, join some kind of a church, speak in tongues, pray a rosary, participate in a sacrament, etc…etc…. Listen to me… while some of those things are necessary for the obedient walk of a Christian, they are not necessary for salvation. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar and misrepresenting the Gospel of Christ either out of shear ignorance or manipulation. There’s no middle ground on this issue!

Notice v.2, “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” He asks how they were saved initially; by faith or the Law? The answer is obviously by faith. You can not be saved by keeping the Law my friend. It will always condemn you.

Notice v.3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” If the flesh couldn’t save you, then how is it able to perfect you? It’s not!

Notice v.4, “Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.” Now, he is forced to doubt their salvation. Why? They were no longer accepting Christ’s sacrifice on the cross but their works of the flesh! We will also find Paul saying in 4:11, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” Paul had reached the point that had begun to doubt whether or not they were really saved.

I, as a pastor, have been forced to do the same. There are people in my church that say all of the right things when you ask them, but in reality, a close examination of their lives reveals quite the opposite. They think and act like heathens! It is obvious that their minds have not been truly transformed (Romans 12:2). Yes, I know that the Bible says that we are to judge no man, but it also says that we are inspect the “fruit” of every man who claims to be a Christian. Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

Notice v.5, “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The miracles and goodness of God; do they come from faithful keeping of the Law of Moses or by faith through the Spirit? By faith through the Spirit, of course! The Spirit was given to each of us when we heard and believed. Acts 10:44 says, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” So too, with each of us. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.