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Showing posts from July, 2016

Christ is ALL

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond norfree: but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:11)
In the modern day preaching of a watered down gospel we hear clichés preached more than scriptural truth. One such cliché that we often hear is, “Let Jesus come into your life”. The unscriptural idea behind this cliché is that the Lord Jesus Christ desires to blend in to your identity and assist you in the life that you want to lead. In other words, He just wants to make your life better so that you can have, “Your best life now." That is the title of a book written by the popular motivational speaker Joel Osteen. In that book he wrote, “God wants to make your life easier. He wants to assist you, to promote you, to give you advantages. He wants you to receive preferential treatment.” I am sure that he has the bumper sticker that says, “God is my co-pilot” on his Rolls Royce. 
Many will let Jesus be a part of their life if it means He w…

Revelation

Revelation is the most feared book in the Bible. Many claim that it is impossible to understand, which is ironic in light of its title. It is the Apocalypse (unveiling), not the Apocrypha (hidden)! The purpose of the the book is to reveal, not conceal. The problem is not that men can't understand it, it's that they won't believe it! Like the rest of the Bible, this book is to be taken literally for exactly what it says. When symbols and figures are used we must rely on the word of God to interpret them. 
There are 3 main schools of thought about Revelation: 1)Preterist - This false view teaches that the events recorded in Revelation describe the problems and persecutions of the church during the times the book was written.  2)Historic - This false view teaches that the events recorded in Revelation describe the history of the church. I also disagree with the view that chapters 1-3 are historical while 4-22 are prophetic. 3)Futurist - This is the correct view of the book. It te…

Jude

This little epistle of 25 verses and 613 words was written either by the apostle Judas (Lk. 6:16; Acts 1:13) or the Lord’s brother (Matt. 13:55). It seems that the writer distinguishes himself from the 12 apostles (compare 2 Pet. 3:2 with Jude 17). It was written during the Acts period and it is written to the same people that the other Hebrew epistles are written to; the kingdom saints. It is easy to read the Body of Christ into v.1, but what about v.21 (compare Rom. 8:35-39)? The kingdom saints are also said to be sanctified (Jn. 17:17) and preserved (Jn. 17:11-12). God will keep them IF they keep themselves in His love by keeping His commandments (Jn. 15:1-10). 
The theme of this epistle is stated in vs.3-4. The “common salvation” refers to the salvation which was spoken by the Lord in His earthly ministry concerning the “world to come” (Heb. 2:3-5). The tribulation saints must contend for the faith against the apostate teachers that Satan will plant among them (wolves in sheep’s cl…

Epistles of John

God inspired the apostle John to write five books of the NT (only Paul wrote more). Although his name appears nowhere in these epistles, that he is the writer is easily seen by comparing them with the Gospel of John and Revelation. For example, John is the only writer who calls Christ the “Word” (Jn. 1:1, 14; 1 Jn. 1:1; 5:7; Rev. 19:13). The three epistles are written in the same style and the latter two illustrate the doctrine of the first. 
The name John corresponds to the OT name Jonah, which means “a dove”. John was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and was the younger brother of James. The brothers worked with their father until Christ called them. They were two of the twelve apostles that Christ chose on earth and sent to Israel with the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 19:28). Peter, James, and John are often referred to as the “inner circle” because Christ seemed to set them apart from the twelve. He is known as the beloved disciple because in his gospel he oft…

2 Peter

The apostle Peter wrote this second epistle to the same group as the first epistle (3:1). Both of Peter’s epistles were written to the scattered Jewish believers to remind them of the words of the prophets and the 12 apostles concerning the last days and the coming of the Lord (3:1-4). In his first epistle he speaks of the coming of the Lord as being “at hand” (4:7). In this epistle he knows that it has been postponed due to the longsuffering of the Lord (3:9). The difference is that between the writing of his two epistles he came to know some things about Paul’s ministry (3:15-16; 1 Tim. 1:16). 
By the time Peter wrote this epistle, Paul had already written a number of his. Paul wrote Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Romans, and 1 & 2 Corinthians during the Acts period. The saints recognized his writings as scripture (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:16). Some try to use v.15 to prove that Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews. However, not everything Paul wrote was scripture. For example…

1 Peter

The apostle Peter wrote this epistle to the believing Jews that were scattered as strangers throughout Asia (1:1) in order to exhort them to be faithful in their suffering and remind them of the coming glory they will see and experience at the second coming of Christ (1:11; 4:13; 5:10). He refers to suffering 17 times and glory 14 times. The end of James naturally leads into this epistle (Jam. 5:7-11). There is no doubt that he is writing to Jews (1:18-21; 2:11-12). 
There were Jews from the areas mentioned in 1:1 that heard Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-11). Those that repented waited in Jerusalem for the kingdom until they were scattered by persecution. Peter is writing as a faithful shepherd to those sheep (Jn. 21:15-17; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:1-4). They are part of the little flock that Christ promised the kingdom (Lk. 12:32; Matt. 21:43; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). Most commentators mistakenly think that Peter is talking about Gentiles in 2:10, but Hos. 1:6-11 makes it clear he is re…

James

Most preachers like to preach out of James because it is a very practical book. While there are certainly spiritual applications in this epistle for the Body of Christ, we must understand that it was not written to us. It contains doctrine that simply does not line up with the doctrine taught in Paul’s epistles. Instead of ignoring the differences or trying water them down, we are going to obey the Lord and rightly divide the word of truth. 
For example, there is an obvious difference between the teaching of James and Paul concerning justification. The reason for that is they wrote to different groups under different dispensations! Under the gospel of the kingdom, justification is by faith that works (Jam. 2:24). Under the gospel of the grace of God, we are justified instantly and permanently by faith without works (Rom. 3:28; 4:5) because we are justified by the "faith of Christ" (Gal. 2:16). Of course, good works should follow salvation (Eph. 2:10), but they play no part wh…

Hebrews

The theme of an epistle is usually stated in the introduction. The first four verses of Hebrews is one sentence and it declares the theme of the book. Hebrews is about Jesus Christ and is a further expansion of the message that He preached to His own people in His earthly ministry (2:1-5). What was that message? It was the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:17, 23). Israel will enter her kingdom under the blood of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). The book of Hebrews is a transition book taking the Hebrews from the old covenant to the new and from the tribulation to the kingdom (8:1-13; 12:11-29). Hebrews reveals the changes in the law in preparation for entering the kingdom (7:12, like Deuteronomy). 
The first two verses of the book make it clear that it is written to the Hebrew people which is the earliest name of Israel (Hebrews, Israelite, seed of Abraham, 2 Cor. 11:22). To whose fathers did God speak to through His prophets in time past? To whom did Christ speak in His earthly ministr…

The Hebrew Epistles

Anybody who distinguishes the OT from the NT is a dispensationalist, whether they admit it or not. Everybody divides the Bible to some extent, but sadly most do not rightly divide it. For example, the far majority of professing Christians believe that Hebrews through Revelation is just as much written to them and about them as is Romans through Philemon. They would call those of us who disagree with them “hyperdispensationalists.” The prefix hyper means excessive and going beyond normal. Are we going beyond the divisions that God put in His word when we distinguish the Pauline epistles from the Hebrew epistles? There are certainly spiritual applications in the Hebrew epistles for us today (like Heb. 11:1 and 1 Pet. 2:2), but they make NO mention of the three major doctrines in Paul’s church epistles: justification by the faith of Christ, the spiritual Body of Christ, and the rapture of the Body of Christ to heaven. In fact, the teaching is different: Compare Rom. 3:28 with Jam. 2:24 C…

Philemon

This is the shortest of Paul's 13 epistles (1 chapter, 25 verses, and 430 words). It was written during the apostle’s first imprisonment in Rome in about 62 AD (note that he expected to be released, v.22). It is probably the most neglected and overlooked epistle, but it contains many spiritual principles (for example, it demonstrates brotherly love, Christian courtesy, and forgiveness) and it also contains a spiritual picture of great doctrinal truth concerning salvation in Christ. 
On the surface it may seem like just a personal letter between two friends. Why is it in the word of God and how are we to be edified by it? The books of the Bible are arranged according to a divine order. It is fitting that this is placed at the end of Paul's epistles. While it does not set forth doctrinal truth and practical exhortation in the same way that his other epistles do, it illustrates both through a real-life situation.
Paul referred to Philemon as his "dearly beloved, and fellowlabo…

Titus

Titus was a Greek young man that was saved and trained under Paul’s ministry (1:4). He is not mentioned by name in the book of Acts, but he is mentioned thirteen times in Paul’s epistles (nine times in 2 Corinthians). Based upon the things Paul said about him we know that he was a great help to him in the ministry (2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6; 8:16, 23; 12:18). He went with Paul to the meeting in Jerusalem (recorded in Acts 15) as an example of a Gentile who was saved without circumcision (Gal. 2). He must have been a bold young man for Paul to trust him to stand with him at that controversial meeting. Some think that Titus deserted Paul in the end (2 Tim. 4:10), but that is not clearly stated. 
Titus was overseeing the work on the Island of Crete when Paul wrote this letter to him. He was entrusted him with major responsibility (1:5). Crete was one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Just south of Greece, the island was famous for it’s “hundred cities.” The Cretians did not have a g…

2 Timothy

This is the last letter written by the apostle Paul before his execution under the authority of the Roman Emperor Nero just a few years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It has 4 chapters, 83 verses, and 1,666 words. These are the last words of a man mightily used of God and take their place alongside other great last words recorded in the scripture (like Moses, Joshua, and David). I personally believe that this was the last book of the Bible that was written (Col. 1:24-26; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2:15). During the transition period covered by the book of Acts, Paul taught that the sign gifts would cease, “when that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor. 13:10). I believe “that which is perfect” refers to the complete revelation of the mystery of this age which is recorded in the sound words of Paul’s epistles. Paul had the sign gift of healing during the Acts period, but not afterwards (2 Tim. 4:20). 
Paul wrote this letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, to exhort him to faithfully ful…

1 Timothy

By inspiration of God, the apostle Paul wrote 9 epistles to 7 churches (Galatians actually written to a group of churches in the region of Galatia) and 4 epistles to 3 individuals. The epistles to Timothy and Titus are commonly referred to as the Pastoral Epistles because they were written to pastors in regard to the work of the ministry. The emphasis in 1 Timothy and Titus is on the proper order, doctrine, and practice of the local church and in 2 Timothy it is on the apostasy of the professing church. 
It is likely that the apostle Paul suffered two Roman imprisonments and that he wrote this letter during the interval in about 64-65 AD. Timothy was Paul’s “son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2) in that he was saved and taught under his personal ministry. We can glean from the scriptures that Timothy was a young and somewhat timid man, but that Paul considered him to be a faithful and trustworthy fellow-laborer in the ministry (1 Cor. 4:14-17; Phil. 2:18-23). Timothy was the pastor of the chu…

1 & 2 Thessalonians

The historical record of how the Lord used the apostle Paul to start the church at Thessalonica during his second missionary journey is found in Acts 17. From the very beginning this church faced affliction. The unbelieving Jews instigated an uproar in the city that caused the brethren to send Paul away by night. He was very concerned for this young church and so sent Timothy to further establish them and to comfort them in their affliction. Timothy met back up with Paul in Corinth and gave him a good report on the church. Paul sent the first letter in about 52 or 53 AD from Corinth (Acts 18) and the second letter was evidently sent not too long after the first. The Thessalonian letters may have been Paul’s earliest inspired writings but they are placed last in order of the church epistles because of their content. The emphasis is on the coming of the Lord which will conclude this present age and is the consummation of our hope. We have already considered how the church epistles are a…