Monday, December 10, 2018

Church Dispensationally Considered

It is imperative in rightly dividing the word of truth that we understand what the Bible teaches about the church. The word “church” occurs 77 times in the KJB and 37 times in the plural for a total of 114 references. There is no need to run to the Greek to understand the word (ekklesia), for its definition is clear when you study the English word as it is used in the KJB. It is a special Bible word that refers to an assembly called out by God in every reference except one. Nowhere in the Bible is it used in reference to a denomination or a building.

In Acts 19, the KJB translators translated the Greek word ekklesia as “assembly” three times instead of “church” because it is not referring to God’s church (v.32, 39, 41). In putting “assembly” instead of “church,” the KJB makes a doctrinal difference between an unruly union mob and an orderly congregation of God’s people. However, they translated a different Greek word (hierosulous) as “robbers of churches” (Acts 19:37). The modern versions say “temples” instead of “churches.” I believe the Spirit of God led the translators to say “churches” in order to teach us that buildings in which people worship idols would be known as churches. There are many so-called churches today that are not really God’s church because they are preaching a false gospel and teaching false doctrine. Satan has counterfeit churches (mystery of iniquity).

If we study the word “church” as it used in the Bible without trying to prove any preconceived ideas, and we just let the Bible say what it plainly says, as we compare scripture with scripture, we will learn that are different churches that exist in different dispensations. The context determines which church is being referred to. It is great blunder to assume that the word church is used exclusively for this present age. That is why I shy away from using the term “Church Age.” Dispensationalists like Scofield, Larkin, Chafer, and Ryrie emphasized the difference between Israel and the Church. However, Israel was, and will yet be, a church.

Failure to recognize the different churches in the Bible will lead to doctrinal and practical problems. There is much bad doctrine about the church because of a failure to rightly divide the different churches in the Bible. For example, that is why some think there is only a local and visible church and that you must be water baptized to be a member of it. The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1646 says that, “the church is a company of VISIBLE saints, called and separated from the world by the Word and Spirit of God, to the VISIBLE profession of the faith; being BAPTIZED into that faith” (Article 33).

The church that God is building in this present dispensation (from salvation of Paul to the rapture) is made up of all those who believe the gospel of the grace of God. Immediately upon salvation we are baptized by one Spirit into one body (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13). All believers in this present age are members of "the church, which is His body (Eph. 1:15-23). This church could not exist before the ascension of Christ, otherwise it would have been a headless body! The word “church” is used nine times in Ephesians, and in every case it is referring to the one true and spiritual church that God is building in this present age.

Consider some distinct truth from Ephesians about the church God is building in this age:
1. Christ is the Head (1:22-23; 5:22-33)
2. Heavenly calling and position (2:5-7)
3. One NEW man, neither Jew nor Gentile (2:11-18)
4. Mystery hid in God (3:1-12)
5. Unity of the Spirit (4:1-6)  

The members of the Body of Christ should assemble together locally, if at all possible, for the work of the ministry (one Body, many local churches). The local church is a visible representation of the Body of Christ in a community. The apostle Paul started local churches and wrote epistles to local churches (Phil. 1:1). The local church is an assembly of believers that is organized according to the order set forth in Paul’s epistles. We must not require more of people than God does to be part of our local church. There is not one instance of the apostle Paul requiring water baptism for church membership. He does not even mention water baptism in the pastoral epistles!

By comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we learn there are different churches in the Bible.

1. There was church in the wilderness (Acts 7:37-38). That church was very different than the Body of Christ! They were baptized unto Moses (1 Cor. 10:1) and brought under the covenant of Law. They were an earthly people with earthly blessings and an earthly inheritance. There was certainly a difference between Jew and Gentile in that church. Throughout the OT we read about the “congregation” (363x’s, see Ex. 16:1-4).

2. There is a kingdom church in prophecy (Ps. 22:22; Heb. 2:12). This cannot be the church which was a mystery hid in God. The church in prophecy is the church Christ spoke of in His earthly ministry (Matt. 16:13-28). Israel will be called out of the nations and assembled in their land (Ezek. 11:17; 36:24-28). They will be the "church of the firstborn" under the new covenant (Heb. 12:18-29).

3. There was a “little flock” of believing Jews in the earthly ministry of Christ that was called out of apostate Israel (Matt. 18:15-20). They were called out by believing the gospel of the kingdom. Repentance and water baptism were required to be part of that church. It was called the “church at Jerusalem” in the book of Acts. The 3,000 Jews that repented on the Day of Pentecost were added to a church that already existed (Acts 2:36-47). They were “in Christ” (on this side of cross all are either in Adam or in Christ, 1 Cor. 15:22) and were a “church of God.” It was the church that Saul of Tarsus persecuted and “wasted” (no one can waste the Body of Christ). The events of early Acts concern what was spoken by the prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). The kingdom church was phased out through a transition after God raised up the apostle Paul.

4. There will be churches in the future tribulation period (Rev. 2-3). The seven churches are representative churches of the tribulation saints (John writes from a future standpoint, Rev. 1:10-11). The seven letters deal with the problems they will have to overcome in order to obtain the promised blessings of the kingdom (e.g. 2:7, 11, 26). The whole book of Revelation is sent to the seven churches for their instruction (1:3-4; 22:16).

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Word and the word

The scripture gives many of the same titles, attributes, and works of the Lord Jesus Christ to itself. There is an inseparable bond between the incarnate Word of God and the inspired word of God. One is God manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), and the other is God manifest in a Book (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, to attack one is to attack the other, and to exalt one is to exalt the other.

"That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:31)

"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" (2 Thess. 3:1)

Titles and Attributes:

"His name is called THE WORD OF GOD” Rev. 19:13
“the sword of the Spirit, which is THE WORD OF GOD:” Eph. 6:17

"the WORD OF LIFE” 1 John 1:1
"Holding forth the WORD OF LIFE” Phil. 2:16

“that HOLY thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Lk. 1:35
“Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the HOLY scriptures” Rom. 1:2

 Christ said, "I am... the TRUTH” John 14:6
Christ prayed, "Thy word is TRUTH” John 17:17

“He is the Rock, his work is PERFECT” Deut. 32:4
“The law of the LORD is PERFECT” Ps. 19:7

“Thou art of PURER eyes than to behold evil” Hab. 1:13
“Thy word is very PURE” Ps. 119:140

Christ said, "I am the LIGHT of the world” John 8:12
David said, "Thy word is a LIGHT unto my path” Ps. 119:105

Christ is called, "FAITHFUL and TRUE” Rev. 19:11
"These words are TRUE and FAITHFUL" Rev. 21:5

“Jesus Christ, who is the FAITHFUL witness” Rev. 1:5
"Holding fast the FAITHFUL word” Titus 1:9

“the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” 2 Pet. 1:1
“the word of RIGHTEOUSNESS” Heb. 5:13

"I am the LIVING BREAD” John 6:51
"Man shall not LIVE by BREAD alone, but by every word of God” Luke 4:4 

"To you which believe, He is PRECIOUS” 1 Pet. 2:7
"Exceeding great and PRECIOUS Promises” 2 Pet. 1:4

"His Name shall be called WONDERFUL” Isa 9:6
"Thy Testimonies are WONDERFUL” Ps. 119:129

"Christ, the POWER OF GOD” 1 Cor. 1:24
"The Gospel is the POWER OF GOD” Rom. 1:16

"Thou art GOOD, and doest Good” Ps. 119:68
"GOOD is the word of the Lord” Isa. 39:8

"Him that is FROM THE BEGINNING” 1 John 2:13
"Thy Word is true FROM THE BEGINNING” Ps. 119:160

"From Everlasting to EVERLASTING Thou art God” Ps. 90:2
"The righteousness of Thy Testimonies is EVERLASTING” Ps. 119:144 

"The Lord shall ENDURE for ever” Ps. 9:7
"The Word of the Lord ENDURETH for ever” 1 Peter 1:25

"Christ ABIDETH for ever” John 12:34
"The Word of God...ABIDETH for ever” 1 Peter 1:23

Christ a "TRIED Stone” Isa. 28:16
"The word of the Lord is TRIED” Ps. 18:30

Works:

"BORN OF God” 1 John 5:18
"BORN...by the word of God” 1 Peter 1:23

"BEGOTTEN...by...Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:3
“BEGOTTEN...through the gospel” 1 Cor. 4:15

“He is also able to SAVE them to the uttermost” Heb. 7:25
“the engrafted word, which is able to SAVE your souls” Jam. 1:21

"The Son QUICKENETH whom He will” John 5:21
"Thy Word hath QUICKENED me” Ps. 119:50

"Christ hath made us FREE” Gal. 5:1
"The Truth shall make you FREE” John 8:32

"The Blood of Jesus Christ...CLEANSETH us from all sin” 1 John 1:7
"YE are CLEAN through the Word which I have spoken” John 15:3

"SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Heb. 10:10
"SANCTIFY them through THY TRUTH. Thy word is truth” John 17:17

"Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us WISDOM” 1 Cor. 1:30
"The Holy Scriptures...able to make thee WISE unto salvation” 2 Tim. 3:15

"Striving according to His working which WORKETH in me mightily” Col. 1:29
"The Word of God which effectually WORKETH also in you that believe” 1 Thess. 2:13

"The Lord TRIETH the Righteous” Ps. 11:5
"The word of the Lord TRIED him” Ps. 105:19

"Christ may DWELL in your hearts by faith” Eph. 3:17
"Let the word of Christ DWELL in you richly” Col. 3:16

“And Jesus KNOWING THEIR THOUGHTS said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” Mk. 9:4
“the word of God… is a DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS and intents of the heart” Heb. 4:12

“God shall JUDGE the secrets of men by Jesus Christ” Rom. 2:16
“the word that I have spoken, the same shall JUDGE him in that day” Jn. 12:48

"Out of His mouth goeth a sharp SWORD” Rev. 19:15
"The word of God...is sharper than any twoedged SWORD” Heb. 4:12

Monday, November 26, 2018

Was Peter a Steward of the Same Mysteries as Paul?

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Cor. 4:1)

Some claim that because Peter was mentioned in 1 Cor. 3:22, that Paul also had Peter in mind in 1 Cor. 4:1. They think this proves Peter and Paul had the same ministry. The text does not specifically say that Paul had Peter in mind. The “us” goes back to 1 Cor. 3:4-5 (us = Paul and Apollos). Also, Paul said that the things he gave in a “figure” (laborer, builder, steward) applied to Apollos and himself (1 Cor. 4:6). He mentioned Peter in 1 Cor. 3:22 because of what he said back in 1 Cor. 1:12 (the carnal Corinthians were glorying in men, 3:21). Peter was a steward of the mysteries of the kingdom (Matt. 13:11), and he understood them (Matt. 13:51-52). Peter knew that God had given Paul a special ministry for this present age, but he confessed that didn’t fully understand the mysteries that Paul wrote about in his epistles (2 Pet. 3:15-16). How could Peter be a faithful steward of mysteries he didn’t understand? Also, in his epistles, Peter did not even mention the mysteries that Christ revealed to Paul (such as the Body of Christ and our rapture). 


Monday, November 19, 2018

Dispensational Salvation

One of the most important things about right division is that it enables us to understand and clearly present the only gospel by which sinners are saved in this present age (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Yet, one of the biggest problems that people have with right division concerns the issue of salvation in different ages because the common and traditional view is that salvation is the same for all people in all ages. Most professing Christians believe there is only one gospel in the Bible, not because they personally studied the matter, but because that is what they have always heard.

The common cliché is that "People in the Old Testament were saved by looking toward the cross and people in the New Testament are saved by looking back to the cross." How can that be true when the twelve apostles weren't even looking toward the cross! The fact that they had been preaching the gospel (Lk. 9:1-6) for three years BEFORE Christ began to speak to them about His death, burial, and resurrection, and that they did not understand or believe it (Lk. 18:31-34), PROVES that there are different gospels in the Bible.

There is much confusion on this issue, and I have to say that some of the blame is to be laid at the feet of dispensational teachers who make it sound like salvation is by works in other dispensations. God has never and will never accept the works of sinful flesh (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 7:18; 8:8).

I am going to give you five points that I hope will help you to better understand the dispensational truth of the word of God concerning salvation.

1. The basis of salvation in every age is the blood of Christ.
The death and resurrection of Christ is the only basis upon which God can save a sinner in any age. It was planned before the world began and prophesied in the OT. However, it was not understood or preached as good news until after it was accomplished (1 Cor. 2:8). Its full meaning was a mystery revealed through Paul’s gospel (Gal. 1:11-12). The cross-work of Christ is the secret to God’s dealings with sinners in every age, but it was not fully revealed until this present age. By faith, the OT saints obeyed the commandments of the law and brought the required sacrifices for their sins. Through forbearance God allowed the blood of bulls and of goats (that cannot take away sins, Heb. 10:4) to cover sins because He knew the blood of Christ would be shed for the remission of sins (Rom. 3:25).

2. The condition for salvation in every age is essentially faith.
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The eleventh chapter of Hebrews demonstrates that men before the law and under the law obtained a good report from God by faith. Why did God accept the sacrifice of Abel? He brought it by faith (Heb. 11:4).

3. The object of faith in every age is the word of God.
Faith is not just believing. Everybody believes in something, but not everybody has faith (2 Thess. 3:2). Faith is believing the word of God (Rom. 4:3-5; 10:17).

4. The content of faith is not the same in every age because God has not given man the same message in every age.
God has not always told men not to do any works but to simply trust the finished work of Christ alone for salvation as He does in this age (Rom. 4:5). In time past, He required works of men to prove their faith, and He will do so again after this age. If God requires works, real faith will seek to do those works (Jam. 2:14-26), but the works in and of themselves have never and will never save a sinner. A man’s faith must be proven. Why doesn’t God require us to do works to prove our faith in this age? We are justified by "the faith of Christ" (Gal. 2:16; 3:22-23) and His faith is perfect and proven!

The word “gospel” means good news from God. As good as God is, do you really think that he has only had one message of good news throughout the ages? For example, here are four gospel messages in the Bible that are not the same gospel we are to preach in this age:
1.) Preached to Abraham (Gal. 3:8)
2.) Preached to Israel in the wilderness (Heb. 3:7-4:2)
3.) Kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 24:14)
4.) Everlasting (Rev. 14:6-7)

5. The results of faith are not the same in every age because God has not given believers in every age the same position, blessings, and destiny. There is doctrine revealed in Paul’s epistles concerning the position, blessings, and destiny of the Body of Christ that we do not find in the OT, Gospels, or Hebrews through Revelation and we must not try to force things that are different to be the same. This information is only found in Paul’s epistles because he is the one to whom the glorified Christ from Heaven revealed it. Christ committed these truths to Paul to make it known. Our position as members of the Body of Christ means that nothing can separate us from the love of God (compare Rom. 8:35-39 with John 15:10 and Jude 21). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and therefore would never have to pray, "take not thy holy spirit from me" as David did (Ps. 51:11). The Spirit of the Lord will never depart from us as He did from King Saul (compare 1 Sam. 16:14 with Eph. 4:30). We are never told to endure unto the end (Matt. 24:13), but rather that Christ will confirm us unto the end (1 Cor. 1:8). Our blessings are spiritual and in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), not material blessings on earth (Deut. 28). We did not obtain our blessings by keeping the commandments of the law but by being in Christ. The Body of Christ is destined to reign with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6-7). It is Israel that is destined to reign on the earth (Ex. 19:5-6; Rev. 5:10).



Monday, November 12, 2018

Eph. 1:13 vs. Jam.1:18

One of the most important things about right division is that it enables us to understand and clearly present the only gospel by which sinners are saved in this present age of grace. The "word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) can refer to the scripture in general (Ps. 119:43; 2 Cor. 6:7), or to the gospel in particular.

The gospel of the grace of God is "the word of truth" by which we are saved today (Eph. 1:13), but the gospel of the kingdom is "the word of truth" by which Israel will be saved in the future (Jam. 1:18). Failure to rightly divide these messages leads to confusion and false doctrine.

Let's compare the word of truth in Ephesians with the word of truth in James.

1. Paul wrote to those who were uncircumcised Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-12), but James wrote to the twelve tribes of Israel (Jam. 1:1).

2. The gospel that Paul preached had to do with a mystery hid from the prophets (Eph. 3:1-6; 6:19-20), but the gospel Peter, James, and John preached was a prophesied message (1 Pet. 1:9-13; 23-25).

3. Paul taught that salvation is by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9, justification by the faith OF Christ), but James taught that a man is not justified until he proves his faith by his works (Jam. 1:21-27; 2:14-26).

4. Paul taught that believers are sealed with the Spirit the moment they believe the gospel (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30 = eternal security), but James taught that believers must endure faithfully to the end (Jam. 1:12; 5:7-11).

Things that are different are not the same!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Things that Differ

In spite of the fact that the word of God plainly tells believers in this present age to follow the apostle Paul (e.g. 1 Cor. 11:1), many professing Christians resent that idea when presented with it and claim to follow the whole Bible instead. That is not even possible because God’s word has different things to say to different people living under different dispensations. Even a casual reading of the Bible reveals that there are different instructions given concerning the same issues! For example, concerning the simple matter of what we are to eat, are you going to follow the instructions God gave Adam, Noah, Moses, or Paul?

All of the Bible is the word of God and is therefore profitable FOR us (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not all written TO us (2 Tim. 2:15). We need to read and study the whole Bible. When we come across something that does not line up with what the apostle Paul taught in his epistles, we are to follow what CHRIST said through Paul directly to us in this present age (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13).


All of the truth in the Bible is good, but there are things that are more excellent for us in this present age of grace (Phil. 1:9-11). The law revealed through Moses for Israel was more excellent than what all of the other nations lived by (Rom. 2:17-20). However, under grace we have something more excellent than the law (Phil. 3:1-10)!

Here is a list of 23 examples that prove you cannot follow everything the Bible says, and that it must be rightly divided to be understood. 

COMPARE (1 Cor. 2:13)

1) Gospel - Matt. 4:23; 17:22-23; 24:14 with Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Col. 1:5-6

2) Audience – Matt. 10:5-7; Lk. 24:47; Acts 11:19 with Acts 26:17; 1 Tim. 2:4

3) Salvation - Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38 with Acts 16:30-31; Eph. 2:8-9

4) Justification - Jam. 2:24 with Rom. 3:28; 4:5

5) Righteousness - Deut. 6:24-25; Lk. 1:6; Rev. 19:8 with Phil. 3:4-10

6) Forgiveness - Matt. 6:14-15 with Eph. 4:32

7) Acceptance - Acts 10:35 with Titus 3:5; Eph. 1:6

8) Love of God - Jn. 15:10; Jude 21 with Rom. 8:38-39

9) Security - Matt. 24:13 with 1 Cor. 1:8

10) Sealed with Spirit - 1 Sam. 16:14; Ps. 51:11 with Eph. 4:30

11) Blessings - Deut. 28:1-5 with Eph. 1:3

12) Coming of the Lord - Matt.24:15 (signs) with Phil. 3:20 (no signs)

13) Law - Matt. 23:1-3 with Rom. 6:14

14) Diet - Lev. 11:46-47 with 1 Tim. 4:1-6

15) Circumcision - Gen. 17:9-14 with Gal. 5:2

16) Holy days - Lev. 23:1-3 with Gal. 4:8-11; Col. 2:16

17) Water Baptism - Matt. 28:19 with 1 Cor. 1:17

18) Signs - Mk. 16:17-18 with 1 Cor. 13:8-13

19) Teachers - 1 Jn. 2:27 with Eph. 4:11

20) Prayer - Matt. 21:22 with 2 Cor. 12:8-9

21) Provision - Acts 4:34-35 with 1 Thess. 4:11-12

22) Riches - Matt. 19:21-24; Jam. 5:1 with 1 Tim. 6:17-19

23) Giving - Mal. 3:6-10 with 2 Cor. 9:7

Monday, October 29, 2018

Following the Apostle Paul

"Brethren, be followers together of me..."

In His earthly ministry, Christ said to His disciples, “Follow me.” The only other man in the Bible who exhorts people to follow his example and teaching is the apostle Paul.

One of the most important truths that believers need to learn is that Paul is the divinely appointed pattern and spokesman and for the Body of Christ to follow in this present age of grace (1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil. 3:17-21; 4:9). Sadly, very few churches today recognize Paul’s authority (2 Tim. 1:15).

When I say that we are to follow Paul, I am simply quoting scripture. I am not exalting a man or making more out of Paul than the scripture does. I am certainly not putting Christ and Paul on the same level. We know that Paul was the “chief of sinners” saved by grace, while Christ is the sinless Son of God and the Savior of sinners. We know that Paul was nothing in himself while Christ is everything for “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” But it was to Paul that the glorified Lord committed the revelation of His message and program for this present dispensation.

It is not the person but the office of Paul that we magnify (Rom. 11:15). We are not to follow Paul as a man (1 Cor. 1:10-17). We are to follow the doctrine that Christ revealed through Paul (1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:10-14).

Many resent the idea that we are to follow Paul. They boast that they follow the whole Bible. That is not even possible because God’s word has different things to say to different people living under different dispensations. There are different instructions in the Bible concerning the same issues! All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all written to us. 

We should read and study the whole Bible. When we come across something that does not line up with what Christ said to us through the apostle Paul in this present age of grace, we must consider what Paul said first (2 Tim. 2:7). Of course, there are things that never change throughout the Bible. 

We are not pitting the words of Moses, Jesus Christ, or Peter against Paul. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is therefore the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). But the word of God must be rightly divided if it is going to be understood (2 Tim. 2:15).


Church Dispensationally Considered

It is imperative in rightly dividing the word of truth that we understand what the Bible teaches about the church. The word “church” occurs...