Friday, September 30, 2016

Acts 10 - Cornelius (pt.1)

Many Bible teachers use the conversion of Cornelius in Acts 10 as an example of how sinners are saved in this age. They believe that Cornelius was baptized into the Body of Christ as a result of hearing and believing  Peter's message. Let's work through Acts 10 and see whether these things are so. 

Acts 9:32 through 10:48 records events in the ministry of the apostle Peter that took place outside of Jerusalem, but still within the land of Israel. As far as the record is concerned, at this point Peter is still operating under the kingdom program of Israel and does not yet know about the new revelations that Christ gave to Paul concerning the Body of Christ. 

It is possible that when Saul of Tarsus met with Peter in Jerusalem three years after his conversion that he told him Christ had sent him to the Gentiles. The Lord had already told Ananias (a devout man according to the law) that Saul was a chosen vessel to bear His name before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15). But I do not believe that Saul told him about the revelations that Christ had given him in Arabia because:
1. He did not have time to discuss such major revelations during a brief (15 days) and busy visit ("coming in and going out," Acts 9:28)?
2. The record does not say that he discussed such matters.  
3. It seems clear that it is not until Acts 15 that the apostles in Jerusalem begin to understand some things about Paul's ministry among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:1-2, 9). 

During the meeting that is recorded in Acts 15 God used the salvation of the Gentile household of Cornelius in Acts 10 to convince the Jewish apostles that Paul's ministry among the Gentiles was according to the will of God. Although there are some new things that take place in Acts 10 that had not taken place before, there is no indication that Peter understood that a new dispensation had begun.

In Acts 10 (ten is the # for Gentiles, e.g. Gen. 10 contains genealogy of Gentile nations) the Lord sends Peter to preach to the Gentile household of Cornelius. This is a big deal because up to this point the Jewish apostles had not been preaching to uncircumcised Gentiles. Their ministry has been to "the Jews only" (Acts 11:19). In light of Matt. 28:19, why would it take a special vision from God to get Peter to go preach to some Gentiles?

The issue with Peter was not so much about preaching to Gentiles as it was about keeping company and eating with uncircumcised Gentiles (Acts 11:1-4, 17b). Circumcision was a token of the covenant between God and Abraham. To be uncircumcised was to be unclean and cut off from the blessings of the covenant. If Peter had understood the revelation of the mystery concerning the Body of Christ he would not have had a problem going to the house of an uncircumcised Gentile (Col. 3:11)! It is important to understand that Gentile salvation is not exclusive to the Grace Age. Gentiles could be saved in the OT, but only through and in connection with Israel (Gen. 12:1-3). Many Gentiles will be saved in the tribulation period and Kingdom Age. According to the kingdom program of Israel, Gentiles are to be saved through the rise and instrumentality of Israel (Isa. 60:1-5; Zech. 8:22-23). 

The reason that the Jewish apostles had not yet preached to the Gentiles was not due to stubborn prejudice (they were filled with Holy Ghost and obedient despite persecution), but because Jerusalem had not yet repented (Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8). The Jewish church did not have any problem with Gentiles getting saved (Acts 11:18). 

The distinct thing about Gentiles being saved in this present age is that they are being saved and blessed WITHOUT Israel (Rom. 11:11-15, 25). Under Paul's ministry, idol-worshipping and uncircumcised Gentiles who could care less about the Jews can be saved by grace without works required and baptized into the spiritual Body of Christ. 

Outline of Acts 10
I. The vision of Cornelius (vs.1-8)
II. The vision of Peter (vs.9-18)
III. Peter goes to the house of Cornelius in Caesarea (vs.19-33)
IV. Peter's message (vs.34-43) 
V. The Gentiles baptized with the Holy Ghost and water (vs.44-48)  

It is interesting to see how God worked separately with Cornelius and Peter and then in perfect timing brought them together. This chapter contains visions, the appearance of an angel, and sign gift of tongues- all of which was common during the Acts period but are not things we will experience today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

What Did God Promise to Preserve in Ps. 12?

Psalm 12

1  Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.

2  They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.

3  The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things:

4  Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us?

5  For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set himin safety from him that puffeth at him.

6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

7  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

8  The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.

In the past month I have had two different people try to convince me that God's promise in Ps. 12:7 is not to preserve His pure words (v.6), but to preserve the poor and needy (v.5). One of those men is the editor of the Berean Searchlight (magazine published by Berean Bible Society). He uses the King James Bible, but he does not believe that it is the inspired and perfectly preserved word of God. 

He wrote the following in an email:

"I know these verses are often quoted to say that God has preserved His Word in the KJV, but I would invite you to consider that this is not what that verse is talking about.  If you just read Verses 6,7, it is easy to conclude that it is speaking about preserving the words of God (although it doesn't say that the words would be preserved in the KJV).  But these verses have a context, and I believe that when it comes to interpreting Scripture, context is king.  Verse 5 says: "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord: I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him." This verse says that God will keep believers safe from those who would harm them.  And it is in this context that Verses 6,7 then go on to speak about God keeping "them" and "preserving them from this generation for ever."  You see, it is a verse about eternal security, a verse about the preservation of believers, and not about the preservation of the Scriptures."

The following is a portion of my response to his email: 

I agree that context is king in understanding any passage of scripture. The theme of Psalm 12 is words. There are 12 references to words in just 8 verses (speak, lips, tongue, etc...). It contrasts the corrupt words of men with the pure words of God. If v.7 was referring back to v.5 instead of v.6, it would say "him" as it does in v.5. Simple grammar tells us that the antecedent to v.7 is "words" in the previous verse. Why are you skipping a verse to find the antecedent? The whole psalm contrasts the words of the wicked (vs.1-4) with the words of God (vs.5-8). Their proud words will come to nought. God's pure words are preserved forever. His promise to protect people wouldn't mean anything if He can't even keep His words. By the way, in light of how many of God's people have suffered martyrdom, v.5 specifically concerns the deliverance of the godly remnant of Israel at the second coming of Christ ("I will arise"). They certainly will be poor and needy after rejecting the mark of the beast. I do believe God keeps His promises, even His promise that His words will never pass away (Matt. 24:35). The doctrine of the preservation of scripture is based on many passages. For example, the word of God "liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23). It liveth = inspiration; it abideth = preservation (and BOTH are true forever). If the OT was still inspired scripture in the first century (e.g. Lk. 4:21; Jn. 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:15), why can't we have inspired scripture today? 

... By the way, you said that v.6 is about eternal security. Do you believe those under the law in times past and in the future tribulation have eternal security? 

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