Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 6

We pick up our study through the book of Acts today in Acts 2 which deals with the day of Pentecost.

Chapter 2
VERSE 1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. The day of Pentecost was the 50th day after the first day of the week after Passover, as instructed in Leviticus 23:15-16. This day was fully come only after seven sabbaths had passed, not counting the Sabbath immediately following Passover, but only those after the feast of firstfruits, which was always on a Sunday. I know that is a mouthful, but there it is.

Notice that they are all with one accord in one place. Acts 1:13 says that they were in an upper room when they chose Matthias; however, we are not told that they are still in the upper room here. The only insight as to where they were is found in verse 2, where we are told that they were in a house. Since few houses (then or now) would hold about a hundred and twenty people (see Acts 1:15), it could be that only the 12 were present in this particular house (though the traditional view says there were 120). I personally believe that only the Twelve were present for the following reasons: few houses can hold 120 people, let alone seated (v.2); if there were 120 of them, they were all Galileans according to v.7; and verse 14 speaks only of the Twelve. Of course, that is just my perspective and I don't plan on starting a church on it.

VERSES 2-3: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. These two verses give the physical description of the event, the next verse will give the spiritual description. Just as a side note, the word cloven means split or divided. Dr. Randy White points out that it is interesting that from the English language: in Old English cleave meant "to separate," while in Middle English, cleave had come to mean the exact opposite (as in Genesis 2:24).

VERSE 4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. While we know that this event was both prophesied (cf. vv. 16-17) and phenomenal, we are not fully able to understand what it means to be filled with the Holy Ghost, at least not from this passage alone. We are able to tell that an additional occurrence, which is fully related, is that they began to speak with other tongues. In context, this is other human languages.

Interestingly, almost the entirety of Christendom will point to this verse as the birth of the church. However, that can not be drawn from the text at all. Instead of being the birth of the church, I submit to you that it was instead just an adding to the already existing kingdom church. Why do I say that? - Because this is not the first time that the Holy Spirit had been given to the apostles at all. In the Gospel of John, it says, Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Again, nothing in the verse implicitly says that this was the birth of the church. To do so is using eisegesis (reading into the text) instead of exegesis (drawing from the text). I also believe it will become more apparent as we make our way through Acts that the church of which you and I are a part was not born in these verses. The literal Kingdom was being offered and ultimately, refused which led to God raising up the Apostle Paul to take the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles. 

Just a bit of backtracking here on my part. If you read the Gospels with the lens that says Jesus was creating a new spiritual Jerusalem as a new spiritual Moses, leading a new spiritual exodus to a new spiritual Kingdom, you will arrive at the church was born in Acts 2. However, if you will read the Gospels literally and stop spiritualizing the text, you will see that Jesus literally came to offer a literal Kingdom that was ultimately rejected and postponed, you can not arrive at the birth of the church in Acts 2. So, before you start regurgitating what you have been taught by your milder replacement theology friends, take the lenses off and read the text using proper exegesis. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 5

Before proceeding into chapter two, I think that it would be a good time to give a primer on Pentecost. Firstly, in my opinion, Pentecost has everything to do with the Kingdom and nothing to do with the Body of Christ. I say this because the Body of Christ could not have begun until the Kingdom had been officially been offered and rejected by the nation of Israel. For too long I believed that this was done in the Gospels. No, it wasn't. In the Gospels, the message was "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). Notice, it says, "at hand", not here, but at hand. It could not have been offered until the Messiah had been crucified (Hebrews 9:16-17). This is exactly what happened in the first several chapters of Acts. It was offered by Peter and was ultimately rejected at the stoning of Stephen. Afterward, the mystery of the Body of Christ was revealed to the Apostle Paul. 

Again, the Gospel of the Kingdom had to be rejected first. Paul explains it this way in Romans 11:28-32, "As concerning the gospel, they (Jews) are enemies for your (Gentiles) sakes: but as touching the election, they (Jews) are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye (Gentiles) in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their (Jews) unbelief: Even so have these (Jews) also now not believed, that through your (Gentiles) mercy they (Jews) also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them (Jews) all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." Pentecost was the beginning of the Jewish nation being "in unbelief". The NASB uses the phrase "shut up in disobedience". This had to happen before mercy could be extended to the Gentile.

However, with that said, God was not surprised by their rejection and already had a plan that involved the Gentiles. Paul says in this way in Romans 11:15, "For if the casting away of them (Jews) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them (Jews) be, but life from the dead?" In other words, the casting away of the Jews meant the reconciliation of the world. That means that it was only by the setting aside of Israel that the rest of the world could be a recipient of God’s grace through Christ's crucifixion. Of course, it will also be the removal of the church through which Israel will be the recipient of God’s promises to Abraham.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 3 Audio

Today we pick up our study on the Acts Transition by looking at verses 6-11.

The Acts Transition, Part 4

Today, we pick up our study in Acts 1:12.

VERSE 12: Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. A Sabbath day's journey is slightly over a mile.

VERSES 13-15: And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Luke now names the apostles present by name. Of course, by this time, Judas was no longer with them. Notice also that it says that they were all in one accord in prayer and supplication. That is important to know since many today will contend that what they do next in choosing Matthias was not of God.

VERSE 16: Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. Peter, being the designated leader, points out from the Psalms 109 that Judas' office must be filled. Interestingly, there is no way that we would have known from simply reading the Psalm that Judas was being referred to. This is the case many times in the New Testament when light is shed on Old Testament passages. It has often been said, and it is true, that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. We must study both to fully understand either. Too many people today want to shy away from the Old Testament. That is not possible if you want to understand the Bible in its entirety.

VERSE 17: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Yes, Judas was one of the original twelve apostles. Our Lord chose him knowing full well what he would do and prophetically had to do (Matthew 26:21-23). He was used, of his own will, by the way, to facilitate the crucifixion.

VERSES 18-19: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. These verses are parenthetical in that they are just filling in the blanks in regards to background. It must also be noted that the field spoken of here is not the field that was purchased by the chief priests in Matthew 27:6-8 with the money that Judas returned to them. It must also be noted that the field that was purchased was not where Judas hung himself since they did not purchase that land until after he had done so (Matthew 27:1-5). Remember that Judas did hold the money bag and he was a thief according to John 12:6. In all likely hood, he hung himself somewhere else; even possibly on another piece of property that he himself purchased with his ill-gotten gain.

This brings up another point, too many times when we think of Judas, we imagine this shifty-eyed little creature that looked like a thief. However, that was obviously not the case since he was entrusted to hold the money. It is apparent that he was considered to be above reproach in this area. Furthermore, when the Lord told them at the Last Supper that one of them would betray him, none of them called out Judas. Instead, they each, in turn, said, "Lord, is it I?" (Matthew 26:22).

VERSE 20: For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take. Again, this is the quote from both Psa 69:25 and Psa 109:8 that Peter was referring to in regards to why Judas needed to be replaced.

VERSE 21-22: Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. Here we also learn that there were others who had been with them from the time of the baptism of Jesus by John until that same day that he was taken up in the Ascension. They were more than likely part of the one hundred and twenty spoken of in Acts 1:15. I believe that the point of these requirements is that the one that was chosen must have full knowledge of what was going on and present for the 40-day Kingdom seminar that he apparently had given according to Acts 1:3.

VERSE 23: And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Based on the qualifications outlined in the previous verse, they chose two men.

VERSES 24-25: And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. Before proceeding, it is important to note that the apostles were with one accord (v.14), basing their decision on Scripture (v.20) and after careful deliberation (v.23) and with prayer (v.24). If the apostles cannot make a valid decision under these circumstances, then what hope is there for any of the rest of us?

VERSE 26: And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. This verse is a clear reminder that even after the Ascension the apostles were living in a different dispensation, for we would never condone this method of decision making. However, in their dispensation, Joshua divided the land by lot (Jos 18:10, Act 13:19), the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was selected by lots (Lev 16:8), the division of the Levites was divided by lot (1Ch 24:5), and Jonah was determined to be the guilty party when the sailors cast lots (Jon 1:7). The casting of lots is never seen as luck or as poor judgment under the Dispensation of the Law; however, it is never used again under the new Dispensation of Grace.

Interestingly enough, even with all of that, because Matthias is never mentioned again, it has led many to assert that the apostles made a hasty decision and got ahead of God. Examples of this can be found in practically any commentary. They usually ask questions like, "Whose name will be on the 12th foundation of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:14? - Matthias or Paul?” Why would they ask this question? - Because they believe that Peter and the others got ahead of God and chose Matthias when they should have waited for Paul. Another commentary goes on to point out that the decision was made prior to Pentecost which insinuates that the decision was made in the flesh. After all, they conclude, "Peter did make his share of mistakes."

All of this just goes to prove that far too many in the church today do not understand what was truly happening in the first eight chapters of Acts.



Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 3

Today, we pick up our study through the book of Acts in verse six.

VERSE 6: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? It is obvious that the apostles were still looking for an earthly kingdom. To them, nothing had changed. They were still expecting the kingdom to come at any time just as they had been expecting and proclaiming all along. Remember the first words of John the Baptist and our Lord? Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mat 3:2; 4:17). Their message stayed the same as they kept their sights on the Lord's promise to them that they would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat 19:28) when he restored the kingdom.

VERSE 7: And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. Notice that he did not correct them, but instead, he just said that it was not for them to know at that moment.

VERSE 8: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Yet, while he refused to elaborate on the timing of the restoration of the kingdom, he did tell them that when it did come, it would be preceded by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost who would come and empower them to take the message to Jerusalem and beyond just like he told them in Matthew 24:14 when he said, and this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. We are all too good at taking this verse and applying it to the church today.


VERSE 9: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. At this point, a question needs to be asked. Why did Jesus have to ascend? After all, why didn't he just stay and help the newly commissioned apostles complete their task? I believe that Ephesians 4:9-10 answers this when it says, now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things. No doubt, we could get lost in the weeds in those two verses, but the latter part says that he might fill all things. The word fill means to make full or to complete. In other words, while the apostles were doing their part on earth, he was to do his part in redeeming the earth back unto himself, e.g., Revelation 5:5, or as foretold by his Father in Psalm 110:1 until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 

VERSES 10-11: And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. In the previous verse, we saw that a cloud received him. Now we see two men in white apparel. This lends itself to the fact that this cloud may not be atmospheric, but instead, heavenly hosts. In fulfillment of the promise by these two men, the Lord will also return with the clouds. Jesus said in Matthew 26:64, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Also, in Matthew 24:30 he said, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Also, The Apostle John wrote in Revelation 1:7, Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Remember also that those who are with him at his return, you and I, will be clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

One final note on the clouds. They are present at the rapture of the church as well. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul said, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Also, the two witnesses that give their lives during the Tribulation ascend up to heaven in a cloud (Rev 11:12).

I also find it interesting that the angels asked them "why stand ye gazing up into heaven?" It is almost like they are saying, "Hey, he is going to do his part, you guys need to get moving to do yours now as well!" What was their part? - To continue proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom as told in Matthew 24:1-31.

On a side note, we need to stop reading the church into Matthew 24,  or the rest of the Gospels for that matter. Always remember that while the promises for Israel are earthly in nature (Luke 19:11-28), e.g., a throne, a land, and a kingdom; the promises for the church are heavenly. Paul reminded the Philippians that their citizenship was in heaven (Php 3:20). As the Body of Christ, our future is heavenly and not earthly.

Finally, notice once again that the Lord shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. As I mentioned before, he left with clouds and he will return with clouds. However, he will also return to the same place from which he departed: the Mount of Olives (Zech 14:4, 9).

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 2

As we discussed last time, this book must be viewed as the setting aside of Israel and the rise of the church. To see it any other way brings about nothing but confusion.

Former Treatise
VERSES 1-2: The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: The former treatise that he is talking about is the Gospel of Luke which he had penned earlier to the same person, Theophilus. No one really knows for sure who Theophilus was. His name means lover or friend of God. In his Gospel, he wrote about all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up. Now, he is going to write about things that happened after the Lord's ascension.

Notice that Jesus had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen. What commandments had been given to them? Pick one. They are all contained in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The bottom line is that all of these commandments had to do with the Kingdom that was at hand and had nothing to do with the age of Grace that would come instead.

40 Days
VERSE 3: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: Apparently, during the 40 days between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus spoke to them the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. That means that Jesus had 40 days to explain to the eleven what was going on. As I stated earlier, they were no doubt caught off guard with the crucifixion. With that said, too many today erroneously think that the apostles were ignorant of what was going at Pentecost. No, not at all. They were fully aware of what was going on. In truth, the problem today is that most in the church do not realize what was truly going on in the first eight chapters of Acts. If they did, I assure you that it would change the church drastically because far too many teachings today rely upon a faulty understanding of these events.

Promise of the Father
VERSE 4-5: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. They were told not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father. What was that promise? The promise of the Holy Ghost as foretold in Joel 2:28-32 which says, And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. So, they were to await these events in Jerusalem. This point is too powerful to be overlooked with a casual reading. They were to wait for the outpouring of the Spirit as foretold by the Prophet Joel which would enable them to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout the coming Tribulation which would culminate with the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom as foretold by the Lord in Matthew 24:14.

Just a note at this point, if you have a red-letter edition of the Bible, you will notice that the entire phrase wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence is in red letters. In actuality, Jesus never spoke these words. Instead, they were spoken by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16. Incidentally, the red-letter editions of the Bible did not come out until around 1899.

On another final note, the King James Version of the Bible always uses the term Holy Ghost when referring to the third person of the Trinity. This is done 90 times in the New Testament.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 2 Audio

In today's study, we take a look at verses 1-5 and discuss the author, what happened during the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension, and the promise of the Father.




Thursday, October 10, 2019

Back to Basics, Part 10

Today in our Back to Basics series, we look at Basic #11 which says, "We believe that all people are by nature separated from God and responsible for their own sin, but that salvation, redemption, and forgiveness are freely offered to all by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When a person believes and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, trusting Him to save, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit, all his/her sins are forgiven, and that person becomes a child of God, destined to spend eternity with the Lord."

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 1 Audio

The purpose of this study is to show that the book of Acts is a transitional book. The Nation of Israel was being set aside for rejecting their Messiah and his offer of a kingdom for a Body of Christ that would be made up of all nations.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Dispensationalism Revisited Audio

Have you ever heard someone say that Dispensationalism is new? My contention is that it is not by showing that even apostles were also dispensational in their thinking as well.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Dispensationalism Revisited

I believe that the apostles were dispensational in the way that they viewed the Scriptures. To them it was simple. The Messiah had come, and as per the Old Testament prophecies, he was going to restore the kingdom, and fulfill the Davidic and Abrahamic Covenants just as God had promised. No, they did not see the cross. This is evidenced both by their increased questioning as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom and Peter's rebuke of Christ for even suggesting his purpose for returning to Jerusalem. Eventually, the cross came and they were demoralized, but after the resurrection, and some obvious clarification laid out by Christ during the forty days before his ascension (Acts 1:9), they were re-energized because the purpose of the cross had apparently been made clear. Moving forward, their focus stayed the same in that they were still looking for the restoration of the promised kingdom (Acts 1:6). This is evidenced by the fact that their message never changed. It still remained as it was in the Gospels; repent and be baptized (Acts 2:37-38).

Sadly, their message was ultimately rejected by the nation of Israel and God raised up the Apostle Paul to start what would become the church age (Acts 9). Yes, initially, Paul did preach the same Kingdom Gospel that the apostles preached, however, at some point between his departure and return to Jerusalem fourteen years later (Galatians 2:1), the mystery of the church had been revealed to him and he was now preaching a different gospel: the Gospel of Grace. No doubt, Peter and the others, realized that something was changing, e.g., Cornelius (Acts 10:1; Acts 15:7), but did not fully understand it until the Counsel in Jerusalem (Acts 15) when Paul returned and explained it more thoroughly. It was at that point that Paul's gospel was confirmed by the twelve (Galatians 2:2) and they parted: the twelve still remained with the Jews in Jerusalem still looking for the kingdom and preaching the Kingdom Gospel and Paul went to the Gentiles preaching the Grace Gospel. They are not the same. The first is still under the Law and the other is under the new dispensation of grace.   

It must be understood that the timeline never changed for the apostles. As per Daniel's prophecy and many others in the Old Testament, their expectation and hope were that Israel would eventually repent nationally, the Tribulation (Daniel's Seventieth Week) (Daniel 9:24; Matthew 24:15) would commence, and would culminate with the Christ's Second Coming, the establishment of the kingdom, and them sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel just as they were promised (Matthew 19:28). This is reflected in all of their writings without exception. This apparently remained a hope until the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the death of John, the last apostle. One would do well to remember this when they are reading anything between James and Jude in the Hebrew Epistles of the New Testament. They were always addressing the believing Jews and preparing them for the tribulation that they fully expected would come. Paul, on the other hand, had turned to the Gentile and the establishment of the church: the Body of Christ. As such, the apostles were teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom that required repentance and baptism, while Paul was teaching the Gospel of Grace that required only belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Failure to see this transition is the reason for so much confusion in the church today, e.g., baptismal regeneration, amillennialism, postmillennialism, Preterism, Replacement Theology, much of the Pentecostal movement, the loss of salvation, etc. In my opinion, it is only through the lens of the dispensational view that this can be seen clearly.

Unfortunately, it is clear from the writings of Paul that most of the churches that he had founded or mentored eventually turned away from the Gospel of Grace that he preached and placed themselves back under the Law or Gospel of the Kingdom (Galatians 1:6) and have quite frankly done so ever since, e.g., finding the church in the Gospels and the other writings of the apostles. With that in mind and the fact that the kingdom never came, in their ignorance, following the writings of Augustine, they began to spiritualize and allegorize the texts to make it say what they wanted it to say. As a result, the church became Israel, they were now living in the kingdom, the pope became the vicar of Christ on earth, and Rome became the Holy City, i.e., amillennialism. The Protestant Reformation did little to change this theology other than to reject the authority of the pope and gravitate from amillennialism to postmillennialism. Neither interpreted the Bible literally and both led to preterism. Dispensationalism was not lost but purposefully left.

It would not be until Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney on the edge of the Second Great Awakening that progressive revelation was revisited, wrongly so, as they waited for the kingdom that would apparently begin in America as a result of Joel 2 and Acts 2 being fulfilled. Yes, America was going to be that great "city on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) that they were waiting for. Unfortunately, the reality of the Civil War shattered any thoughts of that happening anytime soon.

Dispensationalism did not come full circle again until a fellow by the name of John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren in Great Britain began what would come to be called The Dispensational Era. Darby's teaching was popularized in the United States by Cyrus Ingerson Scofield via the Scofield Study Bible and the subsequent rise of fundamentalism between 1857 to around 1956 which sadly came to an end with the advent of Evangelicalism which is another topic for another day. The bottom line is that Dispensationalism is not some new contrived invention as some would suggest. We are merely returning to a literal interpretation of Scripture.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Acts Transition, Part 1

Introduction
After years of teaching ministry, I have come to believe that we are simply interpreting the book of Acts incorrectly. I am not alone in that assumption. Many before me have come to this conclusion as well. So, I am not out on a limb by myself here. Those who embrace this view are often called Mid-Acts and Hyper Dispensationalists. These terms are oftentimes used in derision. However, make no mistake; they are dispensationalists who have just concluded, after comparing Scripture with Scripture that many of the things that we have been taught in regards to Progressive Dispensationalism are simply incorrect and current assumptions need to be questioned. Why? We are taking the things that belong to the Nation of Israel and misapplying them to the Gentile Church. In my opinion, it is just soft Replacement Theology. The result has led to constant attempts to overcome seemingly glaring contradictions that exist between the message of the twelve and that of Paul. This need not be. The contradictions disappear once the preset filter is removed. Rule number one in Biblical interpretation is that the Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and never contradict.

First, it must be understood that God’s initial plan was to reach the Gentiles through the nation of Israel after their restoration which prophetically should have happened with the first advent of Christ. Isaiah 42:1 says, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” He also said in Isaiah 49:6, “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” And also in Isaiah 60:1-3, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” Also in Zechariah 8:23, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” Of course, there are many more verses that show this, but in the end, the nation rejected their Messiah and his Kingdom offer, and the result was the postponement of said Kingdom, and the mystery of the Church being revealed to the Apostle Paul (Romans 11:25; 16:25; 1Co 2:7; 15:51; Eph 3:3; 3:4; 3:9; 5:32; 6:19; Col 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3).

Therefore, the book must be viewed as a transition from Peter to Paul, the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of Grace, and from Jerusalem to Antioch. The first examples that I offer are from the book itself. Compare the first part of the book in regards to Peter to the last part of the book in regards to Paul.

In Acts 2:37 we see after Peter finished his first sermon to the Jewish people about how they had killed their Messiah, it says that the people were “pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was simply, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Is that what we would tell someone today? That they need to repent and be baptized to be saved? No. Only those who have incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures in this regard would teach the necessity of baptism to be saved, i.e., baptismal regeneration. Later in the book, Paul was asked almost the same question by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:30 when he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul’s response we simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." My friends, that answer is totally different than the one that Peter gave. There is no way around it. Peter’s required the work of baptism while Paul’s did not. Something happened. A transition was taking place.

Also, compare Acts 2:45 with Acts 11:29. In the first part of the book, we see the Jerusalem church selling everything that they had and “parting them to all men, as every man had need.” Why did they do this? They were expecting the Lord to return and establish his Kingdom! Also, the Lord had previously told them in Matthew 19:21, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” They wanted to be obedient. We don’t tell or expect people to do this today! By the time we teach the eleventh chapter of the book, the Church at Antioch was making collections to send “relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea.” Why? - The Church in Jerusalem was expecting something that did not happen. Why? - National rejection of their Messiah and Kingdom offer.

Also, compare Acts 12:11 with Acts 26:32 where Peter was supernaturally freed from prison by angels and yet Paul was imprisoned and headed for an appeal to Caesar.

In summation, something was happening. A transition was taking place. Peter was losing prominence and Paul was being raised. The Gospel of the Kingdom (repent and be baptized) was being replaced with the Gospel of Grace (believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved). The purpose of this study is to follow that transition. You may not agree with everything that is presented, and that is okay. Just be open to questioning previous assumptions and we can learn together.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Back to Basics, Session 8

We pick up on Basic #8 today in our Back to Basics series which says, "God the Father is the personal, transcendent, and sovereign Creator of all things."
 

Back to Basics, Session 7

Today we look at Basic #7 which is that we believe God is eternally existent in three separate persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Back to Basics, Session 6

Today, we look at basic #6 - We believe in the inspiration and the preservation of Scripture, that the Bible, Old, and New Testaments, are the inerrant, inspired, infallible Word of God and that it is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Back to Basics, Session 4

In today's study, we look at Basic #5 which is that we believe that the worship of God should be fruitful. Therefore, we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have been truly worshipping Him.





Thursday, September 5, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 4

Another fundamental that is required for correct Biblical interpretation is the issue of baptism. There are two different modes of baptism found in the New Testament that involve water immersion, but they are not the same.

The first is John the Baptist's baptism of repentance. John, the Apostles, and our Lord preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. What was the Gospel of the Kingdom? It was not the Death, Burial, and Resurrection that you and I preach today at all because none of that had happened yet. It was simply repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This is what John taught in Mathew 3:2, Jesus taught in Matthew 4:17, and what the Apostles taught according to Matthew 10:7. It was the outward evidence of that repentance and remission of sins had taken place. It was ONLY for Israel. Was it required? Yes, it was. No baptism, no Kingdom of Heaven. So, yes, it required works of righteousness (Matthew 3:15).

The second is the baptism of believers. Paul said Romans 6:2-4, God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Obviously, Paul was not talking about the same baptism that John the Baptist was speaking of in that the one he was referring to mentions the death and resurrection of Christ.
 
The other unique difference between the two is that the first was required, but the second is just an act of identification. That is also why Paul rebaptized the followers on John in Acts 19:3-5. They had accepted the teaching of the Kingdom of Heaven, but they had also come to accept the Gospel of Grace that Paul was preaching. Again, identification. Not salvific. This is why we should reject the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Those who hold this view are simply not properly distinguishing between the two. 

Also, another point needs to be made here. Water baptism has nothing to do with the baptism of the Spirit that is mentioned in Ephesians 4:4-6 where it says,  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Those who believe it does are referred to as Cambellites. However, they are wrong. It is referring to a Spirit baptism that takes place at the time of faith in Christ and the only baptism required to be a child of God. 

Directional Devo - Living By Faith

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

I've come to believe that the Lord sometimes does not show us things because He knows that we are not ready for them. Sometimes, too much information is just as detrimental as not enough. After all, we are all in a growing process and some of us are further along in that process than others, but that’s okay. The important thing is that we are all searching and trying to understand what God has for us daily.

The Bible says that we grow from faith to faith and glory to glory. To me, that means that we grow a little bit at a time. It does not happen overnight. The Lord knows that I wish it did, but it doesn't. God knows when and how to reveal things to us as He knows that we are ready to receive them. That's why we much live lives of faith!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Directional Thought - Without a Witness

Given enough time, even the most conservative church and school that you and I can think of will be liberal and no longer believe the Bible. However, we needn't worry, God will raise up new ones to take their places because He will not be left "without witness" (Acts 14:17).

Back to Basics, Session 3

Today in our Back to Basics series, we look at Basic #3 and 4. God wants our worship to be inspirational and intelligent.


Back to Basics, Session 2

Today we look at Basic #2 which is that our worship of God must be spiritual.


Friday, August 30, 2019

Back to Basics, Session 1 Cont...

In this video, I finish the previous one in which my video was cut off. Sorry about that.


Back to Basics, Session 1

In this video, I began a new series called Back to Basics in which we take a look at the basics of our faith.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Directional Devo - Not All Are The Same

John said in 1 John 2:19, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 

The bottom line is that there are some who profess to be Christians, go to church, take the Lord’s Supper, get baptized, go through all of the motions, but are not truly Christians. The proof is that they left because if they had been of us, they would no doubt continued with us.

Of these people, Peter says in 2 Peter 2:21-22 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. 

J. Vernon McGee said, “You can wash a pig, put a little bow around his neck, polish his toes, brush his teeth, and take him into your home, but it’s still a pig!  In the end, it will go right back to the mud hole it came from.”

This even happened in Jesus’ ministry with Judas. He seemingly walked like, talked like, and looked like a true disciple on the outside, but of him, Jesus said in John 6:64, there are some of you that believe not…Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Directional Devo - Is God Through with Israel?

Paul said in Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

The mystery that Paul is talking about there is the grafting in of the Gentiles to the purposes and plans of God prior to the glorification of Israel in the Kingdom that is yet to come.

We should never confuse the prophesied salvation of Gentiles in the Old Testament with what is happening today, because each of those prophecies used the instrumentality of glorified Israel, under her Messiah, to bring the nations to God. That was plan A in the mind of God until Israel rejected their Messiah and it was postponed.

I believe that ignorance of this mystery is a preeminent feature in the church today. Being wise in our own conceits is the result of our ignorance in regards to this mystery. Only knowing that the Jewish nation has been cut off and the Gentiles are being saved, without knowing the mystery behind it, one comes to incorrect theological conclusions which can give an anti-Jewish arrogance to the we Gentiles.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Directional Devo - Empty Pews

Several Sundays ago, my wife was not feeling well, so I ventured out to visit and old friend's church that I went to Bible College with. He is such a great guy, with a passion for the Lord, and the Word. He has been serving his church faithfully for 25 years. That is a long time for anyone to be anywhere in my opinion, especially in this day and age in which most pastors statistically only last 18 months at any church. I might have counted 20 people in attendance that morning.

On Wednesday night, I decided to venture back out to visit with the church and counted 3 people in attendance. I didn't even go inside. It was simply too discouraging for me. Instead of going home, I dropped by the next church on the street, sneaked a peek in side, and counted 5 people in attendance. I then drove down the street to a Southern Baptist church and the lights were out. I proceeded to another large SBC church only to find that on Wednesday evenings they only have a children's program.

What an absolute pathetic state the church in America is in. It is dead as a bag of hammers and totally breaks my heart; and my question is, "Why?" What has caused this? While I do not think that the answer is easy in that it is most likely many things that have contributed to it, and I can only speculate based on my experience as a pastor, teacher, and missionary. In other words, it's merely my opinion.

First, the majority of the churches in America are filled with people who are not truly born again. They are the tares among the wheat that the Lord spoke of (Matthew 13:30), and I believe that they represent the majority in the average church. They have turned our churches into childcare centers, entertainment venues, and country clubs. This is the result of the gospel not being clearly taught.

Second, many men in the pulpits are simply not called by God into the ministry. I have met and even ministered to several of them. They merely choose a career path. No doubt, they are "good" men and do indeed want to serve the Lord and their communities, but simply were not called by God to do so. As a result, they have no anointing on their ministries and are doing more harm than good.

Third, many men who have been called by God into the ministry have sold out. They no longer follow the Lord's leading, but are now coddling the "felt needs" of the aforementioned tares. As such, lest they offend, they no longer teach the Word of God, but prefer to amuse the goats instead of feeding the sheep in an attempt to gain acceptance, favor, and security.

Fourth, church members in the pews are simply too busy with the world to care. They whined about Wednesday night being a school night and the church capitulated. They then then whined about Sunday being their only day off that they can spend time with their families. The church capitulated again and canceled the evening services. The end result, most of them are carnal and look for any reason under the sun to not show up on Sunday morning.

In conclusion, the church is full of lost people and carnal Christians who are  being led by men who are not truly called to the ministry or who have sold out. Is it any wonder that the pews are empty? I think not.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Directional Devo - Inconsistent Worldviews

A biblical worldview is one’s total conception of the world from a biblical standpoint. It’s a Christian’s basic belief system about the meaning of life, the nature of God, the source of truth, and other foundational concepts.

Yet many Christians’ worldview is not biblically consistent. They may approach some issues from a biblical viewpoint, but not every issue. There are many possible reasons why some Christians fail to have a consistently biblical worldview:

1) They are ignorant of what the Bible says. They do not know the Word. If someone doesn’t know what the Bible says about the sanctity of human life, for example, it will be difficult for him to form a biblical view on the subject.

2) They reject what the Bible says on certain issues. The Barna Group conducted a survey asking questions about the Bible to determine if people truly believed what the Bible said. The results were startling: only 4 percent did. Professed Christians did not fare much better. If a professed Christian does not believe what the Bible says, it will be impossible for him to have an authentic biblical worldview.

3) They are more concerned with what the world thinks of them than what God thinks. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). A believer who views the world from a biblical standpoint recognizes that he is not of the world. Jesus said, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19; 17:14).

4) They are lukewarm in their commitment to Christ. Like the church of Laodicea, they are “neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15), unwilling to take a stand for Christ.

5) They are influenced by the lies of the world. From the time of Adam and Eve, Satan has used his ability to deceive and confuse (Genesis 3:1-6; Revelation 12:9). A powerful tool in Satan’s arsenal is the idea that the Bible is a book of myths, that it’s full of errors and not to be trusted. Satan wishes to convince people that the Bible is no longer relevant; its laws and principles are obsolete.

6) They are swayed by their circumstances and doubt God’s promises. In Matthew 14, when Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water, he was demonstrating a biblical worldview: Jesus is the source of all power. However, when Peter focused on the storm-tossed sea, his worldview shifted: maybe the waves are more powerful than Jesus.

To have a consistently biblical worldview we must go back to the Bible and take hold of the promises God has made to us, for the world offers us nothing (Luke 9:25; John 12:25; Matthew 6:19).

(This was taken from Got Questions? Question of the Week)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Directional Devo - Lord, Liar, or Lunatic

The Bible says in 1 John 2:24, "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." In the context of this verse, the truth has to do with who Jesus Christ was and claimed to be. The Gnostics were already gaining a foothold in the church with a false teaching that Jesus did not really come in the literal flesh, but was actually a phantom. This teaching was propagated best by one named Arius and it eventually became known as the Arian Heresy. He eventually came to the conclusion that Jesus was not God, but a creation of God just like us. Sadly, this same teaching is the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and Jehovah's Witnesses today. The Mormons say that Jesus is actually the brother of Lucifer (the Devil) and the Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus is actually Michael the Archangel. Either way, they both deny the deity of Jesus Christ and have left the truth.

Sadly, so many do the same thing today in the church. They come in long enough to hear the truth and then get lured away into error. They start out well, but then they take a detour. It is a big deal who you believe Jesus is. Was He just a great man or God Incarnate? It's no small issue. As a matter of fact, it is the none other than the difference between Heaven and Hell. Jesus said in John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. In this verse, Jesus is invoking the name of God, "I am" (the word "he" is not in the original text). He is claiming to be the same God that said to Moses in Exodus 3:14 after he asked him His name, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

The choice is ours to make. Jesus asks the same question of us today that He asked of Peter almost two thousand years ago in Luke 9:20, But whom say ye that I am? Josh McDowell says that each of us has to answer that question one way or the other. He is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic to each of us. Who is He to you?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Directional Devo - Misplaced Priorities

Revelation 1:3 says of the book, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."

Can you imagine the day that we all stand before God?  According to the Bible, the very first thing that we will see in Heaven, after the throne of God (Rev. 4:2), is our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.  Revelation 5:6 says, And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain...  What will go through our minds at that moment?  Sorrow?  Pity?  Regret?  Maybe that is why Revelation 21:4 says, And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes…  What are these tears for?  They may be because for the first time, we are going to realize just how much Jesus suffered so that we could have eternal life.  Maybe, they will be because we are going to wish that we would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve, done so much more with our lives? Sadly, there are going to be many Christians with tears in their eyes on that day because they are simply going to be overwhelmed with the unfortunate reality of misplaced priorities.  How about you?  Where are your priorities right now?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Directional Devo - Worldview

We all have a worldview. The question is which one. Well, it depends upon the lens through which we are looking. If the lens is secular in nature, then we will tend see things from a point of view that does not lend itself to the supernatural or the things of God. On the other hand, if the lens through which we see the world is sacred, we will tend to see things from a point of view that does lend itself to the supernatural and the things of God. Some have also referred to this lens as the filter, funnel, or theological sieve through which we take in our surroundings.

That being said even with a sacred worldview, there are still internal struggles that happen within each of us that cause conflict when it comes to our individual desires. Much of that, I have found, is dependent upon where we are in our walks with the Lord. If we are walking close to Him, in His world, obeying His truth, we do not tend to struggle as much, and things tend to be more black and white. However, if we are not where we need to be with the Lord, not in His word, not being obedient, that is when things tend to get complicated and conflict arises in regards to our desires.

The Apostle John described it very well when he said in 1 John 2:15-16 that we are not to love the world, nor the things that are in it. He goes on to say that if any man does love the world that the love of the Father is not in him, and as a result, he will desire for the things of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life. None of which is of the Father. Again, the struggle tends to boil down to where we are in our relationships with the Lord. As believers, we are called to a standard that is above the world’s standard. You might say that it is a heavenly standard, and the holy way to reach that standard, or to at least make an honest attempt, is with a worldview that is firmly grounded in the Word of God.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Directional Devo - Conviction vs. Guilt

John said in 1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

We were told in the first chapter that the first reason why John wrote this letter was, that your joy may be full.  Now here in v.1 we see the second reason that John wrote this letter is that ye sin not.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. God requires perfection. Why? – Because He is perfect. Is it possible for us to be perfect? – Yes, but only through the finished work of Christ and not ourselves. 

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: That means that the Lord Jesus is our advocate (intercessor) and one day he will present us spotless to the Father (Ephesians 5:25-27).

I’ve found that even though I know this, I still allow Satan to step in and accuse me. I've found that he usually attacks me the strongest after I've sinned. His attacks come in the form of feelings of shame and unworthiness. Why? - So that he can drive a wedge between me and God. He wants me to run away from God just like Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3) did.

I've also found that I can always tell when I am being attacked by Satan or being convicted by the Holy Spirit by my reaction to the situation. When I'm being tempted to run from God, the church, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, I know it's the devil that is behind it because he is trying to drive a wedge between me and God. However, it is the opposite with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, because He uses conviction to draw us to Himself, the church and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Directional Devo - Verbal Plenary Inspiration

Conservatives believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That implies not only inspiration but also that it was verbal and plenary. What does that mean?

Verbal inspiration means that not only was the message of the Bible inspired but the very words that are contained in that message. Actually, the word verbal means “by means of words” or “word for word.” Now you know why I shy away from thought-for-thought translations in favor of word-for-word translations. Our said in Matthew 5:18, "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The NKJV translates it “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” A “jot” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a “tittle” is a small appendage that differentiates two similar letters. The best way that I could compare it to our English language would be the equivalent of a dotting of the “i ” and the crossing of a “t”. The dot and the crossing make a big difference. As such, verbal inspiration requires dictation which is the “act or manner of transcribing words uttered by another.” In other words, God gave the words, and the writers wrote what they heard.

Finally, the word plenary means “full” or “all”. So, we believe, or at least I believe, in plenary verbal inspiration which means “All Words God-Breathed”. Pretty simple in my opinion, but a very divisive issue in the church today.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Dispensationalism, Part 1

With so much confusion in the church today about Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology, I wanted to just take a moment to define them both briefly and to present the latter as the one that I embrace and why. Yes, I am a dispensationalist. Just for clarification, neither of them are really a theology as much as they are a framework for interpreting the Scriptures. In other words, they are a lens through which the Scripture is viewed.
 
Covenant Theology is favored more so by those of a Reformed or Calvinistic persuasion. However, in the United States, especially among Evangelicals, Dispensationalism is far more popular and has been since the latter half of the 19th century. Please also understand that even among each, there are disagreements, but they are basically the same in their overall approach. I am only scratching the surface in this blog post.

At the risk of oversimplifying both, the difference between the two is that one interprets the Scriptures through the lens of covenants, i.e., Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant, while the other interprets the Scriptures through the lens of dispensations. A dispensation by this definition is the particular means by which God deals with man and creation during a given period in redemptive history. In the most popular view, there are seven dispensations which which include: Innocence (Genesis 1 -3) - Adam and Eve before they sinned, Conscience (Genesis 3-8) - First sin to the flood, Civil Government (Genesis 9-11) - After the flood, government, Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19) - Abraham to Moses, the Law is given, Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 2:4) - Moses to the cross, Grace (Acts 2:4 - Revelation 20:3) - Cross to the millennial kingdom Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6) – The rule of Christ on earth in the millennial kingdom.

As I stated earlier, I am convinced that the dispensational view is the correct one because it requires a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture while the other does not. Covenant Theology uses a lot of allegorization. The earliest proponent was Augustine, the father of amillennialism, who used what is called a "dual hermeneutic" by bouncing between literal interpretation and allegorical interpretation to arrive at such doctrines as amillennialism. This approach must be utilized in order to arrive at many things that are embraced by those on that side of the aisle and is the main reason that I reject it. It is also how they arrive at such teachings as the Church is spiritual Israel (Replacement Theology), therefore, God has no special purpose for the people of Israel. I could go further, but time does not permit. Suffice it to say they do not interpret the Scriptures literally. For straightforward compare and contrast, I would recommend an article by Dr. Richard P. Belcher, Jr., Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary. Click HERE.

In regards to Dispensational Theology, there are basically six things that are essential and this is where I will spend the bulk of my time. In the meantime, I would encourage you to compare and contrast the two on your own to be able to determine where you stand on the issue because the bottom line is that one of them is wrong and the other is right. There is no way for them both to work in harmony with each other. You will lean to the one or to the other in your approach to the interpretation of the Bible or you will be terribly confused. Just make sure that you are informed and not just regurgitating something you heard someplace which is the norm in our society today. It is just laziness. Our faith is worth more than that.

The first essential belief to Dispensationalism is that the primary meaning of any passage in the Bible is found in that passage of the Bible. The New Testament does not reinterpret or transcend the passages in the Old Testament in any way that would override or cancel the original intent of the author. This is called a high view of Scripture and it simply means that the author said what he meant and meant what he said when he said it and who he said it to. That does not mean that other passages can not shed new light on what the author meant, but that they simply can not altar what the author originally meant. This approach is at total odds with Covenant Theology.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 3

Another problem that I see in the church today is that we do not seem to acknowledge that the gospel that Christ and the Apostles taught is not the same gospel that we teach today. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the mystery of the church was not revealed to the Apostle Paul until sometime after Acts 9 and his conversion (Galatians 1:6-12). The bottom line is that those in the Gospels, Christ and the Apostles, and those in the first several chapters of Acts, where teaching a Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism, while the Apostle Paul only taught belief as the sole requirement for salvation.

When I speak to people about this issue, they are pretty quick in acknowledging that there are some differences between the two gospels I just mentioned, but when it comes to the book of Acts, this is where they normally start resisting and digging their heels in because they have been incorrectly taught for so long. That is when I challenge them to show me how the message of the Apostles changed after the death and resurrection of Christ in the first several chapters of the book. It is obvious that it did not. They were still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is also obvious that there is some type of transition taking place in this book. For example, after Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, the people asked him, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37), and his response was repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:28). Did you see that? He didn’t say anything about just believing in the death, burial, and resurrection at all. Instead, he said repent and be baptized: still the Kingdom Gospel. Later on in the same book, after the conversion of Paul, he was asked the same question when the keeper of the prison asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30), and Paul simply said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Their responses were totally different. Why? – The Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace are different. You and I do not teach the Gospel of the Kingdom, but it will be preached again during the Tribulation or what is also called Daniels’ Seventieth Week by the 144,000 (Daniel 9:27; Matt 24:14; Revelation 7). There is no way to harmonize the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace. One did not just "become" the other.

The book of Acts should be seen for what it is; a book of transition. There is no doctrine for the church in it. You can’t take the things that happened during that period in which the Kingdom offer was still on the table, preceded by signs and wonders according to Joel 2:28-29, and apply it to the church. If you do, and most of the church tries to, it will only lead to confusion at best and heresy at worst.

In conclusion, notice the transition throughout the book. In Acts 2:45 it says that they sold all of their possessions, and in Acts 11:29, a collection has to be taken from the church at Antioch, where they were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), (by the way, the church today has far more to do with Antioch than Jerusalem) for the Jews in Jerusalem’s very survival. In Acts 12:11, we see Peter being delivered by an angel, and in Acts 26:32, we see Paul still under arrest and being sent to Caesar. Obviously, something had changed. In Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:26, 4:24, and 5:12, they were all in accord, and yet when we reach Acts 28:25, they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word. There is no way around it. A transition had taken place.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 2

Another thing in regards to interpreting the Bible to remember is the distinctiveness of Paul’s revelation about the hidden mystery or the Church. As such, his thirteen epistles, Romans through Philemon, are of supreme importance during this dispensation of the Church or grace. Some would include Hebrews in that number assuming that Paul wrote that letter also.

We must understand that Jesus and his apostles ministered to the House of Israel with a message of an offered kingdom if the nation would collectively repent. It was not contingent upon individual repentance, but national. There were at least five thousand Jews, maybe eight thousand, depending how you interpret the response to Peter’s second sermon, that we know of that repented in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4), but the nation itself never did repent, and thus, rejected their Messiah and his kingdom offer. The kingdom was postponed, not be offered again until the Tribulation Period or what is called Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27). As such, God raised up the Apostle Paul with a new message to take to the Gentiles.

Another thing that many fail to see is that the New Testament does not start in Matthew, chapter 1, in spite of the fact that all of our Bibles have a page marked New Testament between Malachi and Matthew. As a matter of fact, it could not have started until after the crucifixion, and I would contend, the resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 9:16-17 makes this clear when it says, For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. In other words, there can be no testament without the death of the one making it, i.e., Jesus. (Remember, that our Last Will and Testaments are not enforced until after we die.) That means that all of the Gospels are Old Testament. The New Testament could not have begun until at least Matthew 27:51 when Christ died. To rightly interpret the Bible is to understand this. Do not be tempted to pull the teachings in the Gospels into the Church! If you do, you will end up with confusion as I discussed in the last blog.

With that said, the epistles of Paul are of supreme importance to you and me today. They are where the Church gets its doctrine. Also, they shed tremendous amounts of light on the Old Testament by revealing things that we never would have or could have known without them.

This also means that the gospel that Paul received from God himself was different than the gospel which Jesus and the apostles taught in the Gospels and even well into the book of Acts. Now, before you become a bit unhinged, remember that the apostles had no clue that Jesus was going to be crucified; even when he told them directly because the Bible says that it was hidden from them (Luke 18:31-34). Bear in mind, this was right after he had commissioned them to go out and preach the kingdom of God (we call this the Gospel of the Kingdom) and they had already returned (Luke 9:1-10). The apostles were not preaching the Gospel of Grace that Paul preached.

Paul’s gospel was different in that it included the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It also required only belief as compared to the Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism. (That is another blog for another day). All throughout Paul’s epistles, he refers to this gospel that was exclusively delivered to him. He said in Galatians 1:11-12, 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. Also, in Ephesians 3:2-4, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ). Paul even stated in Romans 2:16 that God will judge the secrets of men…according to my gospel. Other verses that speak to this gospel can be found in Galatians 1:15-17; Galatians 2:2; Romans 16:25. The bottom line is that the gospel that Paul preached was different from the gospel that the other apostles taught.

The conclusion is that when interpreting the Bible, we must remember that Paul’s gospel is unique to the Church. Only he received the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25) that had been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Colossians 1:26) as revealed to the Apostle Paul.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 1

The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:19-20 that we have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Notice, that last part of these verses where it says, "no prophecy of scripture is subject to private interpretation."

Many today struggle, especially in a culture that denies absolute truth, that the Bible says what it means and means what it says, period. Not a very popular idea for sure. However, when it comes to biblical interpretation, we can both be wrong, but we can't both be right. I suggest to you today that the main reason for incorrect Bible interpretation, other than just sheer ignorance and a desire to twist the scriptures to mean something they do not agree with, is inconsistency and a failure to adhere to the fundamentals of biblical interpretation.

The Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and never contradict. Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The very fact that Paul said this indicates that there are divisions in the Bible and they must be rightly divided or it will not make sense or there will be apparent contradictions in the text.

One example of many comes to mind: the Law of the Kingdom as given by our Lord in Matthew 5. It was obviously not part of the Mosaic Law, but a kingdom that Christ came to offer to the nation of Israel. Remember that the first words out of both John the Baptist and our Lord's mouths were, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This is the message that they and the apostles proclaimed throughout their earthly ministries. However, in the end, that kingdom was rejected by the Jewish nation, therefore postponed, and the church that was the hidden mystery was born as revealed through the Apostle Paul. Therein lies the confusion which leads to all kinds of wild interpretations and various heretical doctrines.

You and I are not under the Law of Moses, never have been. Neither was the rejected and postponed kingdom ever offered to the church. At this point at least, we have no part of the kingdom they spoke of. We are not in it and we are not building it, and yet, how many times do we hear things like, "we are a kingdom church, we are building the kingdom, we are enlarging the kingdom, we are bringing in the kingdom, we are doing kingdom work", etc. Why? - A failure to understand that the kingdom was not offered to the church. As a matter of fact, little, if anything, that was spoken in the gospels in their entirety has anything to do with you and me today.

Think about the things that are taught today in regards to losing one's salvation, the need to stay faithful until the end, baptism as a requirement for salvation (baptismal regeneration), the church is now Israel (replacement theology), and amillennialism. Where do these come from? The gospels. See the problem? No, I have not always understood these things so clearly, and many around me may disagree. However, I believe that a failure to understand leads only to misinterpretation and contradiction.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Extent of Our Faith

In today's study from Matthew 17:3-27, we take a longer look at the Transfiguration, the healing of the demon-possessed young man, and the apostles continued inability to see the impending crucifixion.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Moses and Elijah
v.3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Why Moses and Elijah? Most would contend that they represent those who go to heaven (Jude 1:9; 2Ki 2:11). Some, like Moses, will die to get there; while others, like Elijah, will go without dying, i.e., the rapture in 1Th 4:13-18. Another might be because they represent the fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). This is why they are considered to be the two witnesses of Rev 11:3-13.

The Supremacy of Christ
vv.4-5 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. In effect, Peters statement about building three shrines was putting Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah, which drew a strong rebuke from the Father. Why did Peter make this suggestion? Apparently, he didn't even know why! Mark tells us in Mark 9:5-6 "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-- (6)  because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid."

The Apostles Reaction
vv.6-8 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. The apostles react in abject fear. Getting rebuked by God is not exactly on anyone's list for the day. However, I am sure that the Transfiguration served as a reassurance for the apostles as to Jesus' identity.

The Question about Elijah
vv.9-13 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Again, he reassures them that Elijah will come before the Second Coming, and he will in Revelation 11 as one of the two witnesses. He again, reiterates that had they accepted John, he could have been Elijah.

Too Tough to Handle
vv.14-16 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. This boy was might have had epilepsy. The symptoms are certainly the same. However, it was apparently demon possessed as well. Of course, that is not to imply that everyone today who has epilepsy is demonized. Notice that the disciples were unable to cast this demon out. 

Jesus Rebuked the Demon
vv.17-21 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Now Jesus does what his disciples could not. He furthermore tells them that their unbelief hindered their ability to cast the demon out. Apparently, in this case, they did not even have the faith of a mustard seed. 

He also says that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Most likely the Devil merely knew the extent of their faith and succeeded it. Makes you wonder if the Devil knows the extent of our faith?  I am going to go with, yes, he does. 

Somber Announcement
vv.22-23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. This is another somber announcement for the disciples.

Notice that the Lord offered them the bad news but with the good news as well. Of course, they still did not totally understand what he was truly saying to them.

Jesus and Taxes
vv.24-26 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. The questioning goes along these lines…of who do the kings of this earth take taxes?  Do they take them from their own children?  No!  They take them from strangers.  Conclusion: if the king does not tax his own family, then the Father would not tax the son since it is His temple.

Lest we Offend
v.27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. However, Jesus saw no reason to offend them (they were already all over him and he apparently saw no reason to provoke them further) and told Peter to go and cast in his hook and look in the mouth of the first fish he catches to find the tribute money for him and Peter. It's just a little curious to me that Jesus would be concerned about offending them now.