Monday, February 4, 2019

How to Share Right Division

We must face the reality that we can only reach the reachable and teach the teachable. Some people are not receptive to the truth. We need the discernment to know the type of person we are dealing with (which comes through spiritual growth and experience). The apostle Paul did not unload the whole dispensational wagon on everybody that he talked to (1 Cor. 2:1-3:3). 

We should only try to show people the mystery if we discern that they are sincerely walking in the light they have with a desire to learn more truth (e.g. Acts 18:24-26). It is important that we are motivated by charity and not pride as we try to teach others (2 Tim. 2:24-26). There was a time when we didn’t know this truth either (1 Cor. 4:7)! 

Example of a conversation starter: Have you ever wondered why there are so many different denominations? How can so many groups, who all claim to believe the Bible, have so many different beliefs (1 Cor. 14:33)? They are trying to interpret the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to interpret itself (2 Pet. 1:20). The Bible is God’s word and therefore it must be studied God’s way. God did not start any denominations. He is only building one spiritual church (Eph. 4:4-6). 

Example of how to introduce right division to someone: Did you know there is a verse that tells us exactly how to study the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15)? Notice that it does not say divide truth from error, but rightly divide the word of TRUTH. All scripture is the truth and is FOR us (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not all written directly TO us. God never changes in His person and moral principles (Mal. 3:6), but He has changed in His dealings with man through the ages as He gave progressive revelation. If you don’t understand this, the Bible will be a confusing book to you. 

We cannot possibly obey everything in the Bible. Consider the basic issue of what we are to eat:
Adam (Gen. 1:29) = no meat 
Noah (about 1500 years later, Gen. 9:3-4) = meat with blood
Moses (about 1000 years later, Lev. 11:46-47) = clean meats
Paul (over 1500 years later, 1 Tim. 4:1-5) = nothing is to be refused (note to teach otherwise in this age is a doctrine of devils)

We must not try to invent our own divisions or ignore the ones God put in His word. Everybody divides the Bible (OT/NT), but we must rightly divide it. 

Prophecy: SPOKEN since the world began (Acts 3:19-21)
Mystery: SECRET since the world began (Rom. 16:25)

The mystery of the Body of Christ was first revealed and made known through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-13; Col. 1:24-27). 

There is one family of God, but there is a difference between God’s earthly people and His heavenly people (Eph. 1:10; 3:15). If words have any meaning, there must be a difference between the nation of Israel who is destined to reign on the earth over the nations (Isa. 60:1-5) and the spiritual Body of Christ (neither Jew nor Gentile, Gal. 3:27-28) who is seated in heavenly places and is destined to reign there eternally (Eph. 2:6-7; Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-4). 

Monday, January 28, 2019

How to Share the Gospel

How to Lead a Soul to Christ

I. Turn the conversation toward spiritual things 
How do we bring it up? Do we just bluntly ask out of nowhere, “Are you saved?” The starting point can be difficult, but once we turn the conversation to spiritual things it gets easier to talk to people about the gospel. I find the best way is to ask the person what they believe about salvation. Most people like to share their views on important matters. Ask them something like, “What do you believe a person needs to do to be saved and have a home in heaven?” How they respond will immediately give you a basic framework concerning the beliefs of the person you are dealing with (Matt. 12:34b). If they believe works are required for salvation, say something like, “We all have views about God and salvation, but the authority on what is true is the Bible.” As you begin to deal with a person, endeavor to keep the conversation focused on the gospel of Christ. Only deal with questions that directly relate to the gospel. Don’t allow questions like, “Where did Cain get his wife?” get you off track. Respond to such questions by saying, “That’s an interesting question, but let’s talk about that later.”

II. Establish a foundation 
Ask the person if they truly believe in God and if they believe the Bible is His word. If they don’t believe this foundational truth, there is no need to go any further. Plant the seed by giving such people some reasons to believe in God and the Bible. For those who already believe this foundational truth, go on to the first step in sharing the gospel. 

III. Show from the scripture that they are a condemned sinner
The first step in leading a soul to Christ is showing them from the scripture that they are lost (Heb. 4:12). Romans is the doctrinal book on salvation for this age of grace. In the first main part of it, Paul proves that all are guilty sinners in need of salvation (Rom. 3:10, 23; 6:23a). Explain that God is righteous, and we all come short of His standard of righteousness, and therefore we deserve death and hell (use specific example of lying, Rev. 21:8). If a person will not accept the bad news, they will not believe the good news (Acts 24:24-25). A person will not get saved if they don’t truly realize they are lost. 

IV. Explain that they cannot be saved by works
As long as a person is trusting in any works that they can do, they will not trust the finished work of Christ (Rom. 10:1-4). Salvation is not Christ PLUS anything…. it is Christ ALONE (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). 

V. Present the gospel of Christ clearly 
Once a person knows that they are a condemned sinner, and there is nothing they can do to save themselves, they are ready to hear the good news of the salvation Christ accomplished for them through His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21). The key words are “Christ died FOR our sins.” He died for ALL of our sins and paid our sin debt in FULL. Emphasize that the purpose of salvation is being reconciled to God, not just going to heaven when we die. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but not everybody wants to be right with God. 

VI. Invite them to TRUST Christ as their Personal Savior 
How do people get saved (Eph. 1:12-14)? They key word is “TRUSTED.” There is no example of leading someone in a sinner’s prayer in the Bible (Acts 16:30 would have been the perfect scenario). The problem with that is people are religious by nature and can easily be misled to say a prayer without trusting Christ. We can trust the Holy Spirit to do His work when we plant the gospel seed.

Monday, January 21, 2019

How to Share the Truth with Others

Proverbs 22:17-21
(17)  Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.
(18)  For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.
(19)  That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee.
(20)  Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
(21)  That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?

Five Steps to Knowing the Certainty of the Words of Truth:
1)    Submission – Bow down (2 Tim. 3:16) 
2)    Reception – Hear (Rom. 10:17; 1 Thess. 2:13)
3)    Application – Apply thine heart (2 Tim. 2:15)
4)    Meditation – Keep them within thee (1 Tim. 4:15)
5)    Confession – Fitted in thy lips (2 Cor. 4:13)

Twofold Purpose for Gaining this Knowledge:
1)    That we might trust in the Lord (v.19) – How can we trust a God we don't know? Knowing the Bible is about knowing God!
2)    That we might be able to answer others (v.21b) - Every believer should be able to communicate what the Bible says to those that ask (Ps. 119:42; Prov. 15:28; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 3:15). You aren’t rooted and grounded in the truth if you can’t teach it to others. 

Guidelines for Personal Work:

1. God’s word in our heart (Col. 3:16)
2. Care for others (Phil. 2:4-5)
3. Testimony that doesn’t hinder the message (Phil. 1:27)
4. Speak up (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:3-4)
5. Depend on God (2 Cor. 4:7)
6. Deal with people where they are (contrast Jn. 3 and 4)
7. Experience is a great teacher!  
8. Patience (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
9. Pray for and follow-up on those we talk to (Acts 15:36)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Water Baptism

In the last post I showed you that the commission Christ gave His apostles just before He ascended to Heaven concerned the kingdom program of Israel and is not the commission for the Body of Christ in this present age of grace. Yet, all denominations imagine that they are operating under it. That is why they all require water baptism.

Water baptism has long been a controversial subject that the professing church has been divided over. Pastor J.C. O’Hair called it “Religious TNT.” When Darby was asked what he held to concerning baptism, he said, “I hold my tongue.” There is no majority agreement in the professing church concerning how to answer basic questions about water baptism. Is it to be done by immersion, sprinkling, or pouring? Is it for salvation or testimony? Who has the authority to baptize? What words are to be said during the baptismal ceremony?

Another legitimate but rarely asked question is, "Does water baptism even matter today?" Some say water baptism is required for salvation, while others say it is for church membership. Both views are absolutely wrong. Why all the confusion? Most do not rightly divide the word of truth and consider what Paul says (2 Tim. 2:7, 15).

What is baptism? Many will say it means to be immersed in water. That may be how some dictionaries define it, but that is not how the King James Bible defines it. The nation of Israel was baptized in the OT, and they didn't get wet at all (1 Cor 10:1-2). This baptism teaches us that a baptism is essentially an identification and not immersion in water.

Let’s consider the first passage in which water baptism is mentioned (please read Matt. 3).

John, the forerunner of the King, baptized repentant Jews for the remission of sins. Baptism was required to prove faith under the gospel of the kingdom (vs.1-10; Mk. 1:4-5; Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19-21). This baptism was to manifest Christ to Israel and was a ceremonial washing and purification (Jn. 1:31; 3:23-26; Acts 22:12-16). 

There are three baptisms mentioned in one verse (vs.11-12; Heb. 6:2):
1) With water (cleansing)
2) With the Holy Ghost (power)
3) With fire (judgment)

We cannot follow Christ in water baptism because His was unique. He was identifying with the sinners He came to save. This was the beginning of His ministry. According to the Law, priests were washed and anointed when they began their ministry (Ex. 29:4, 7).

Christ spoke of a baptism He had to be baptized with AFTER He was baptized with water (Lk. 12:50). He was referring to His suffering on the cross. Christ told the disciples that they would be baptized with suffering (Matt. 20:20-23).

The mystery of the church which is the Body of Christ was revealed to the apostle Paul (Eph. 3). The spiritual baptism that makes us members of one Body is only found in his epistles (1 Cor. 12:13). This is NOT the prophesied baptism with the Holy Ghost.

Let’s review the different baptisms we have considered so far:
1) Baptism unto Moses
2) Baptism unto repentance
3) Baptism of Christ
4) Baptism with the Holy Ghost
5) Baptism with fire
6) Baptism of suffering
7) Baptism into the Body of Christ

Read Eph. 4:1-7 - Which baptism was Paul referring to when he said there is “one baptism?” It cannot be water baptism because water cannot put you in Christ!

Paul mentioned water baptism one time in his epistles to the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-17). He baptized a few people in the transition period, but he never commanded it. That Christ sent Paul NOT to baptize proves that he was not under the same commission as the twelve apostles because they were sent to baptize. 

There is only one baptism that matters today, and it is the spiritual baptism that all believers receive the moment they believe the gospel of the grace of God (Rom. 6:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 2:10-12).

Monday, January 7, 2019

Rightly Dividing "The Great Commission"

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mk. 16:15)

There are many commissions from God in the Bible, and all of them are great because God gave them. What right do we have to elevate one above the others and call it "THE Great Commission?" Preachers claim this is the most important commission because it was the "last words of Christ."

Are the “last words” of Christ really found at the end of the Gospel records? No, Christ continued to speak from heaven! The apostle Paul wrote thirteen epistles by inspiration of God directly to the Body of Christ in this present age of grace. He wrote the wholesome words of Christ (1 Tim. 6:3). The most obvious reason that our commission is not found in the Gospel records is that the Body of Christ was not even revealed until several years later through Paul (Eph. 3).

In this present age God certainly wants the gospel to be preached to every creature, and Paul labored to that end (Col. 1:6, 23). So, how could I possibly say that Mk. 16:15 is not our commission? Of all the people who claim this is our commission, don’t you find it odd that NOBODY today is fulfilling ALL of it (vs.15-18)? They should call it the great OMMISSION. 

(15)  And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
(16)  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
(17)  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
(18)  They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

1. The fundamentalists focus on v.15 and change v.16 to "he that believes is saved and then ought to be baptized as a testimony"
2. The "Church of Christ" and other groups who believe water baptism is essential to salvation focus on vs.16
3. The Charismatics take v.16, but focus on vs.17-18
4. The snake-handling Pentecostals in the Appalachians focus on v.18

There have been people who have literally died trying to follow v.18 (over 100 documented)! Many have become discouraged and defeated because they cannot do the signs that the passage says will follow them that believe. The way that the “scholars” try to get around this passage is to say that it doesn’t even belong in the text! Modern versions have footnotes that cast doubt on it. Can you imagine the Gospel of Mark ending at v.8? If we will study the Bible the way God commanded us to (2 Tim. 2:15), we can leave the passage just as it is, and it will make perfect sense.

vs.9-14 – On the day that Christ rose from the dead the disciples were mourning and weeping, not rejoicing. They did not believe the report that He was risen (compare Lk. 18:31-34; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).

– Who is “them?” Not us (v.14)! Which gospel? There is only one to be preached in this age, but there are various messages of good news revealed in the Bible. The gospel that we are to preach today was revealed by Christ to Paul (Gal. 1:11-12), so we know that is not the gospel spoken of here. The gospel that was being preached in this context is the gospel of the kingdom. It was the good news that the prophesied kingdom that God promised Israel was at hand. Christ will reign from Jerusalem over the entire world. Two days before the cross Christ told His disciples that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached in “all the world” (Matt. 24:14). The gospel that Christ revealed to Paul was preached in all the world in the first century (Col. 1:6, 23) and the end still hasn’t come! Do you think Christ was mistaken?

– The gospel of the kingdom required the water baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mk. 1:4-5). That is the gospel Christ is sending the Jewish apostles to preach. Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, knew what to preach (Acts 2:38). The water baptism itself did not save them, but it was required as an expression of faith. Did Christ send the 12 apostles to baptize? Then Paul was NOT sent under the same commission (1 Cor. 1:17)! There is only one baptism that puts us in the Body of Christ, and it is not water baptism (Eph. 4:5; 1 Cor. 12:13).

vs.17-20 – Christ did not say, “These signs MIGHT follow them that believe.” The Bible teaches that the Jews require a sign (1 Cor. 1:22; Ps. 74:9; Jn. 4:48). The nation of Israel began with signs (Ex. 4:1-9, 17, healing and snake handling). Signs point to something (Lk. 8:1). The gospel of the kingdom is accompanied with signs of the kingdom (vs.20; Heb. 2:3-5).

1) Cast out devils – Satan bound in bottomless pit in the kingdom age
2) Speak with new tongues – Gen. 11; Zeph. 3:9; Zech. 8:22-23
3) Take up deadly serpents – Isa. 11:8-9; Lk. 10:19; Rev. 9:19
4) Drink deadly thing – water contaminated in GT (Rev. 8:8-11; 16:4)
5) Lay hands on the sick – Isa. 32:24

The kingdom has been postponed and the signs have ceased. Paul worked signs during the Acts period to prove his apostleship (2 Cor. 12:12). The 12 did not fulfill this commission in the first century (Gal. 2:9). It will be fulfilled by the 144,000 in the future tribulation period.

There are other passages concerning the kingdom commission. Christ made appearances to His disciples over a 40-day period between His resurrection and public ascension. He commissioned them at different times and in different places. All of them concern the kingdom, but there are distinctions.
1. Matt. 28:18-20 – LAW (Matt. 5:17-20; Isa. 2:1-5), fulfilled in the Kingdom Age
2. Lk. 24:45-49 – Prophesied baptism with Holy Ghost (Isa. 32:15), BEGIN in Jerusalem (capitol of kingdom, Jer. 3:17)
3. Jn. 20:21-23 – Sent as the Father sent Christ (Lk. 22:28-30), apostolic authority to remit and retain sins
4. Acts 1:6-8 – Prophesied baptism with Holy Ghost, begin in Jerusalem

So, why do all of the denominations insist that this is their commission? Different denominations want it for different reasons, but there is one thing that all of them agree on: water baptism is a church ordinance (for salvation or church membership).

What is our commission? See 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Col. 1:23-29; 1 Tim. 2:4-6. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

What's New?

Ecclesiastes 1:
(9) The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. 
(10) Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

The earth and all the things in it are corrupt. Everything we see is going to pass away when God makes all things new more than a thousand years from now (2 Pet. 3:10-13; Rev. 21:1-5). Thank God we don't have to wait that long to experience some new and eternal things! 

There is nothing new under the sun, so we must look above it to the Son of God. Believers are seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:4-7). Our conversation is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and we are to set our affections on things above (Col. 3:1-2).

2 Corinthians 5:
(17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Seven new things we have in Christ:

1. New Birth (Titus 3:5)

2. New Man (Col. 3:10)

3. Newness of Life (Rom. 6:4)

4. New Song (Ps. 40:1-3; Col. 3:16)

5. New Purpose (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

6. New Body (Phil. 3:20-21)

7. New Eternal Destiny (Eph. 2:7)

Now, isn't that much better than a new year on this corrupt planet?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Does God Intervene Today?

There are some dispensationalists, who knowing that the kind of supernatural intervention that occurred in the prophetic kingdom program of Israel (signs and wonders) is not occurring today, go to the extreme of believing and teaching that God does not intervene (i.e. involved) at all in our lives outside of salvation and spiritual growth through His word. However, I have never gotten that idea from reading and studying Paul’s epistles. I know that the Lord will not feed us with manna from heaven or allow us to walk on the water, but can we look to Him to guide and provide for us in our daily life? Is it a waste of time to pray for guidance or about physical and material needs? How we view this issue greatly affects our prayer life!

I realize that most professing Christians are Calvinistic (everything predetermined) and superstitious (trying to understand what God is doing through feelings and circumstances) when it comes to this issue, but we must be aware that there is a ditch on both sides of the road of sound doctrine. In trying not to stay out of one ditch, we must be careful not to overcorrect and swerve over into the other. Some of the brethren sound somewhat like Deists (there is a God but He does not intervene) and Gnostics (superior spiritual knowledge, all matter is evil) in how they think God is not involved in our world today in any tangible way. They assert that we should only pray about spiritual things, and that prayer in this dispensation is only about talking to God about what His word says (as if He doesn’t know). Paul didn’t think it was wrong to pray about the thorn in his flesh! If he didn’t believe God uses our prayers, why did Paul even bother to request prayer? By the way, it is a great privilege to pray regardless of results.

I agree that the primary way God is working today is by His Spirit through His word. That is how sinners are saved (Eph. 1:13) and believers are edified (Phil. 1:6; 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). God is far more interested in changing us then He is in changing our circumstances. True and lasting peace and contentment is only found in Christ. The spiritual and eternal is far more important than the physical and temporal. Spiritual growth is the priority! It is very unwise to make the circumstances of life your main focus and concern.

But will God do anything in our lives today outside of salvation and spiritual growth? The King James Bible (visible book) is a result of the providence of God. There is no doubt in my mind that He was involved in the translating process! The finished product is the proof that it is the perfectly preserved words of God.

I think the book of Esther provides an illustration of how God can intervene without signs and wonders (i.e. behind the scenes). Unless we have scriptural authority, we cannot dogmatically say God is doing this or not doing that. Where did Paul say that God will NOT: meet our needs, guide us in our daily life, or help us recover from sickness? God can do all of that without using signs and wonders. 

1) Rom. 8:26-28 – Intercession is intervention
2) Rom. 15:23-32 – God provided through His people, protection, travel
3) 1 Cor. 16:5-9 – God gives opportunity (2 Cor. 2:12; Col 4:3)
4) 2 Cor. 1:8-12 – deliverance from trouble, helping by prayer
5) 2 Cor. 9:6-14 – favor, provision
6) Eph. 6:1-3 – God’s promise
7) Phil. 1:12, 19 – The promise of Rom. 8:28 also applies to this life, prayer makes a difference
8) Phil. 2:27 – Paul attributed his recovery to the mercy of God
9) Phil. 4:19 – provision, promise for givers
10) 1 Thess. 3:9-11 – direct our way (Prov. 3:5-6)
11) 2 Thess. 3:1-2 – we should pray for people to have receptive hearts
12) 1 Tim. 4:4-5; 6:8, 17 – material blessings
13) 2 Tim. 4:16-18 – deliverance
14) Philemon – Onesimus meeting Paul in Rome, prayer (v.22)

I will not give you personal illustrations because the scripture is the authority and not experience. However, there is still something to experience (Rom. 5:4)! The family and ministry that I have today is a result of God’s leading and working in my life. I can look back and see His hand! 

By the way, this present dispensation began with divine intervention (Acts 9), and it will also end with divine intervention (Titus 2:13)! 

How to Share Right Division

We must face the reality that we can only reach the reachable and teach the teachable. Some people are not receptive to the truth. We need ...