Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is Salvation the Same in Every Age?

The common view is that salvation is exactly the same throughout the Bible. Most preachers will tell you, "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." Such statements satisfy the professing Christians that rarely read their Bible, much less study it. But Christians who take the Bible seriously have a hard time just accepting that cliché when they read passages like this:
Matthew 16:
(21) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
(22) Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Why would Peter do such a thing? Because he had no clue what Jesus was talking about!
Luke 18:
(31) Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
(32) For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
(33) And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
(34) And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
People in the Old Testament were saved by looking toward the cross? The twelve 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 proves that there are different gospels in the Bible. They preached the gospel of the kingdom to Israel which was the good news that their prophesied kingdom was at hand (Matt. 4:23; 10:5-7). There is only one gospel to be preached in this present age and Christ gave it to the apostle Paul by revelation (Gal. 1:6-12). Paul preached the good news that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
I hope the following five points will help you 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, burial, 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 Old Testament. However it was not understood or preached as good news until after it was accomplished. 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 Old Testament 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 teaches that men both 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 (11:4). God has never and will never accept the works of sinful flesh (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 8:8). 

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. 10:17). 

4. The content of faith is not the same in every age because God has not said the same thing to man 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. In times 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. 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) and His faith is perfect and proven!

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 Gospel records or Hebrews through Revelation (which concern kingdom saints) 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 (not the 12 apostles who were apostles to the 12 tribes of Israel, Matt. 19:28) 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). Our blessings are spiritual and in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3, compare with Israel’s material blessings on earth in Deut. 28). And 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 17, 2014

David vs. Goliath = Christ vs. Satan

Please read 1 Samuel 17
This is one of the most well known stories in the Bible. Even lost people that have never read the Bible use the expression, "It is like David vs. Goliath" (many sayings and expressions used in the English-speaking world originated with the KJB which has had a major influence on our culture, many use scriptural expressions without even knowing it). I am sure that those of you that had the privilege and blessing of being raised in a Bible-believing church have heard many Sunday School lessons and sermons on this passage of scripture. But this is much more than a story- it is the word of God and as such it cannot be exhausted no matter how many times you have read it or have heard it taught. God can speak to our hearts fresh and new through this passage and perhaps we can even learn something new from it.

David killing Goliath by faith in God was a literal and historical event that was full of significance for the nation of Israel. This is the event that God used to cause the man that He had chosen and anointed as the next king of Israel to begin to rise in prominence among the people. This event is one of the greatest illustrations of David's love for God and of his faith in Him.  

There is much more that lies under the surface of this story. I see in this passage a spiritual picture of how Jesus Christ defeated Satan. It also contains spiritual principles and applications for believers today concerning the life of faith (Rom. 15:4). 

Goliath = Satan (v.1-10)
Goliath is referred to as "the giant" in another passage of scripture (2 Sam. 21). There is some debate as to what was the exact measurement of a cubit and a span but at six cubits and a span he stood somewhere between 10 and 15 feet tall (I would guess 13 feet). He was big enough to wear armor that weighed over 150 pounds, wield a huge spear that weighed about 35 pounds, and use a shield so big that a man was designated to carry it out in front of him. He was a literal giant (not just a tall man of 7' as some claim). The Bible refers to giants about 20 times and they are spoken of in a literal sense.

Giants were part of Satan's plan of evil. Based on Gen. 6 we know that giants were the offspring of the union between fallen angels and women. They were "mighty men" and "men of renown". Upon the fall of man God told Satan that the coming Redeemer would be the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). The eruption of giants in the earth was the result of Satan's attempt to corrupt the seed line and prevent the Redeemer from coming to bruise his head. Only Noah and his family were pure in their generations and thus were spared from the universal flood that God used to destroy the corrupt race. But there were also giants in the earth AFTER the flood (Gen. 6:4).  

After God revealed that the promised seed would come through Abraham and God gave Abraham and his seed the land of Canaan, the giants showed up again but were localized in the land of Canaan. This explains God's strict forbiddance for Israel to mix with the Canaanites and His command for Israel to utterly destroy them (including women and children). Satan used the giants to discourage the children of Israel from taking the land of promise (Num. 13:32-33). In Deuteronomy Moses refers to battles with the giants that lived on the border of the land. Joshua led in the destruction of many giants but when Israel possessed the land there were still giants left in Gath (Josh. 11:21-23).     

• The Philistines were the enemies of God and God's people. Goliath was the champion of the Philistines (their greatest warrior). Satan is the greatest enemy of God and God's people (1 Pet. 5:8).

• There are 3 sixes associated with Goliath in this text. Six is the number of man and after the fall man is in defiance and opposition to God (Rev. 13:18, Satan in the flesh, 3 = completion, man in complete opposition)

• He was a proud and defiant enemy that blasphemed and challenged God (Isa. 14:12-14; 2 Thess. 2:4)

• His size and armor was such that flesh and blood could not overcome him (Job 41:8-10, 15-34; Isa. 27:1)

• He was a relentless enemy (v.16, 40 days, Matt. 4)

David = Jesus Christ
The name David means "beloved". Jesus Christ is God's beloved Son. Both David and Jesus were born in Bethlehem. 

• He was anointed as King (16:13) but before he took the throne he was a good shepherd that was willing to lay down his life for his sheep (v.12-15; 34-37; Jn. 10)

• He was sent on a mission by his father for the good of his brethren and was perfectly obedient to carry it out (v.17-27; Jn. 6:38)

• He came into the camp of his brethren in lowliness but was misunderstood and falsely accused by his envious brother (v.28; 16:6-7,18). Later, David's brethren will receive him when he becomes their king and so will Israel receive Christ when He comes again to set up His kingdom. 

• He was motivated by a great reward (v.25-27) but more than that by the great cause of God's glory (v.29, 45-47)

• David had no fear of the giant (v.48) just as Jesus had no fear of the devil (Matt. 4)

• David left the mountain top to descend into the valley to face the giant on his own turf and he took 5 stones (5 is # of death, Gen. 5) out of the brook to defeat the giant (v.48-49). A young man with a sling and 5 stones would be considered foolish, weak, base, and despised compared to the giant (1 Cor. 1:27-29). Christ defeated Satan through weakness (Phil. 2:5-8). He died on the cross with 5 wounds in His body.

• As he faced the giant he was the object of mockery and ridicule (v.40-44).

• He took the sword (instrument of death) from the giant and used Goliath's own sword to cut off his head (v.50-51). Satan's sword was death but Christ took that very sword from Satan and used it to destroy him (1 Cor. 2:7-8; Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 2:14)!

• As a result of this victory Israel could arise and shout for joy and experience victory over a defeated foe (v.52). 

• The intended result of this miraculous victory over the giant was that "all the earth may know that there is a God". 

• This victory was accomplished at Ephes-Dammim (the boundary of blood) and the valley of Elah (the mighty one). This speaks of victory through death and resurrection.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Most Bible teachers fail to consistently divide the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15) between the prophetic kingdom program of Israel and the mystery program of the body of Christ. The things that were SPOKEN by the prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21) cannot be the things that were kept SECRET from the prophets since the world began (Rom. 16:25)! This is exactly why many "fundamental preachers" today deny the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. Rightly dividing the Bible will keep you from believing in a mid-trib, pre-wrath, or post-trib rapture and thereby losing your blessed hope (which is a serious error, Col. 1:23). We are instructed by the apostle to the Gentiles to be looking for Christ from heaven- not the antichrist from earth! 

The English word rapture refers to a state or experience of being carried away. It comes from the Latin word rapto which means to seize or snatch away by force. So, although the word rapture is not in the KJB, it is certainly a good word to use in describing believers being "CAUGHT UP" (1 Thess. 4:17) off the earth into heaven by the power of God! The body of Christ was a mystery that was revealed through Paul (Eph. 3) and so was the rapture of that body ("I shew you a mystery", 1 Cor. 15:51). The body of Christ is NOT the subject of the PROPHESIED tribulation period (all 7 years are subject of prophecy, Dan. 9:24-27). The rapture of the body of Christ is only revealed in Paul's epistles. We must not confuse our rapture with the mid-trib rapture of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses (Rev. 12:5) or the post-trib rapture of the Jews back into their land (Matt. 24:29-31).

Those that hold to a mid-trib, pre-wrath, or post-trib view of the rapture accuse those of us who understand our blessed hope of just wanting to escape tribulation. I plead guilty! Anybody in their right mind would want to escape the prophesied tribulation period when God pours out His wrath on the world! However, that is NOT why I believe in a pre-trib rapture. I do so because it is scriptural. Throughout church history God's people have suffered much tribulation (Acts 14:22) but we are not going through the prophesied tribulation period which will be the time of JACOB'S trouble (Jer. 30:7).

Many Bible teachers today don't seem to understand the stark difference between the rapture of the church and the revelation of Christ. Notice the following differences:

The Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17)                                     The Revelation (1 Pet. 1:13) 
1. Mystery revealed through Paul (1 Cor. 15:51)  1. Spoken by prophets (Jude 14-15)

2. Before the Tribulation (1 Thess. 5:10)              2. After the Tribulation (Matt. 24:27)

3. Christ comes secretly to meet us
     in the air (1 Thess. 4:17)                                  3. Christ comes publicly to earth (Rev. 1:7)

4. No signs precede (Titus 2:13, 1 Thess. 1:10)   4. Signs precede (Matt. 24)      
5. Christ comes in blessing (Phil. 3:20-21)            5. Christ comes in judgment (Rev. 19:11)

6. Christ comes for His body (Col. 3:1-4)              6. Christ comes for Israel (Rom. 11:26)

7. Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10)              7. Judgment on Nations (Matt. 25:31-46)

8. Rapture to heaven (1 Thess. 4:17-18)            8. Rapture to Land (Matt. 24:31; Isa. 43:1-7)

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