Friday, March 24, 2017

A Good Quote

Here are some good comments on Colossians 2 from George Williams (1850-1928) in his work, The Students Commentary on the Holy Scriptures:

"To suppose the baptism of verse 12 to be the immersion of the flesh of man in water, is to oppose the argument of the entire passage, and to degrade its meaning from spiritual realities to carnal shadows."

"If the Divine fact be believed that the believer is complete in the Head (v.10) and is perfectly nourished by the Head (v.19), then the abolition of and uselessness of ordinances will be recognized, for how could completion and perfection require anything to add what is already perfect and complete?"  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-11
[3] Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 
[4] Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 
[5] For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 
[6] And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 
[7] And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 
[8] For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 
[9] But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
[10] Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us ; 
[11] Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

As we deal with the inevitable troubles and sorrows of this life, we all need and desire comfort. Sadly, most people look for it in the wrong places. They look to the vain things of the world and the flesh that cannot provide real and lasting comfort. Looking to such things will not solve your problems. In fact, it will just make things worse! Any supposed comfort that you find outside of God is shallow and temporary at best. God is the source of all real and lasting comfort. Notice the two alls in our text. God has ALL the comfort that we need for ALL the tribulations that we go through. In the opening passage of this epistle (vs.3-11) the apostle Paul refers to tribulation, trouble, suffering, despair, and death ten times. But he also refers to comfort and consolation ten times. The ten negative words are perfectly balanced with ten positive words. God can comfort us in any and every thing that we face. 

That God is the God of all comfort was real to Paul. It wasn’t just something he talked about, it was something he personally experienced (refers to comfort about 30 times, 13 times in 2 Cor.). In this epistle he talks much about his ministry. Christ gave him a distinct message and ministry and he suffered much to fulfill it (1:8; 4:8-12; 6:4-5; 11:23-28; Col. 1:24-26). Paul’s suffering was not something he brought on himself through sin. It was suffering that came upon him through his obedience! All people suffer in this world. Being a Bible-believing Christian doesn’t lessen our suffering, it actually increases and intensifies it! Paul testified that the sufferings of Christ abounded in him but so did His consolation (v.5). 

The English word “comfort” comes from two Latin words which together mean “with strength”. When God comforts us He strengthens us in our inner man that we might endure what we are facing (2 Cor. 4:16-18). How does He do this? Upon salvation we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). The Lord Jesus referred to the Holy Ghost as the Comforter in the context of preparing the apostles for the tribulation they were going to endure (Jn. 14-16). He promised them that He would not leave them comfortless (14:18). He certainly will not leave us comfortless either as members of His own Body. By the way, He knew what it was to be comfortless (Ps. 69:20-21)! 

HOW does the Holy Ghost comfort us? I believe He uses 3 main things:

1. The Brethren (2 Cor. 4-7; 7:5-7; 1 Thess. 5:11)
The Lord uses other believers in whom He dwells to comfort us. As we experience the comfort of God we are to extend it to others. God must first minister to our hearts before we can effectively minister to others. All true ministry is of, by, and through Him. We are members of the same body (1 Cor. 12:13, 25-27). We should not be a source of grief, but of comfort to one another (2 Cor. 13:11)! We can do this by loving one another, praying for one another (2 Cor. 1:11), serving one another, and edifying one another. 

2. The Bible (Rom. 15:4; Ps. 119:50)
The Holy Spirit uses the words that He inspired to bring comfort to our hearts. The Bible tells us of God’s great love for us. It tells us of all the spiritual riches we have in Christ. The Bible has a passage for everything we go through. The promises of God are provide comfort (2 Cor. 1:20). For example: Fear (2 Tim. 1:7); temptation (1 Cor. 10:13); needs (Phil. 4:19); worry (Phil. 4:6-7). One of the most comforting verses in general is Rom. 8:28. Bible reading and prayer go hand in hand. As we talk to God about our troubles He comforts our hearts by His Spirit. It is comforting when others share God’s word with us, but it is even better for us to personally get into the word of God for ourselves (1 Sam. 30:6). 

3. The Blessed Hope (1 Thess. 4:13-18) 
The most comforting truth in the word of God for the Body of Christ is the blessed hope of our imminent and pre-tribulational rapture. Yes, we will face tribulation in this life, but we are not going through any part of the prophesied tribulation that precedes the Kingdom Age. It is a blessed hope because we will:
1. See Christ ("the Lord himself")
2. See and be with our saved loved ones (“together”)
3. Be like Christ (Phil. 3:20-21)
4. Be with Christ (“ever be with the Lord”)

We should be talking much about our hope! One of the common greetings among the brethren in the early church was, "Maranatha" (1 Cor. 16:21-24). If we love Him, we will love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8-10).  

We must trust in God to enjoy His comfort (2 Cor. 1:8-9). He comforts us that we might faithfully serve Him (2 Thess. 2:16-17; Acts 9:31).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Our Rapture is not Revealed in John 14:1-3

John 14:1-3
[1] Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 
[2] In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so , I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 
[3] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

The traditional view: 
1. The Father's house is Heaven. 
2. When Jesus ascended back to Heaven He started a construction project so that every believer will have their own mansion ("I don't know what it will be like, but if Jesus has been working on it for 2,000 years..."). But, He said “ARE many mansions,” not “WILL BE after I go build them.”
3. Christ is teaching His disciples about the rapture of the Church. 

One of the major hinderances to Bible study is reading truth back into a passage before it was revealed. The way this passage is usually taught is a great example of anticipating revelation. It is easy to read the Body of Christ and the rapture into this passage, but the Body of Christ and our rapture were mysteries revealed through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-12; 1 Cor. 15:51-52). 

In my Father's house
Christ referred to the temple in Jerusalem as His Father's house (Jn. 2:16). Some teach that in v.2 Christ is referring to the temple that will be in Jerusalem in the Kingdom Age (Ezek. 40-42). But most of those teachers also claim that the word "mansions" should be translated "rooms.” The King James Bible is perfect and not one word of it should ever be altered. Prophesying of Christ, Isaiah predicted, "And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue..." (Isa. 22:24). The Father’s house is the house of Israel. 

are many mansions
One of the definitions of a mansion is "the house of the lord of a manor.” A manor is "the land belonging to a lord or nobleman.” By saying there were many mansions in His Father's house, Christ was saying that there were plenty of opportunities in redeemed Israel to reign with Him in the kingdom of heaven (see the parable in Lk. 19:11-27). There will doubtless be many mansions in the New Jerusalem which will descend out of heaven after the Kingdom Age (the city will be 1,500 miles square). The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are on the gates of that great city (Rev. 21:12). 

If it were not so, I would have told you
Why would the Lord have to make such a statement to His apostles? They had forsaken all to follow Him, so He was reassuring them that it will payoff in the kingdom (Matt. 19:27-30). 

I go to prepare a place for you 
Before they could receive this promise, Christ had to prepare a place for them in the kingdom of heaven. He was going back to the Father by way of the cross. Through His blood He would prepare a place for them in the kingdom of heaven (Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10). Israel will enter the kingdom under the blood of the New Covenant. Of course, at this point the apostles did not understand the cross (Lk. 18:31-34). The kingdom was “prepared… FROM the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). In regard to the prophetic kingdom program of Israel, Christ is said to be “the Lamb slain FROM the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). In contrast, the mystery of the Body of Christ was planned “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

One of the definitions for the word place is an "office or official position" (Jn. 11:48). When Christ sets up His kingdom there will be no more place for Gentile kings (Dan. 2:31-35, 44). The twelve apostles will reign as kings, and the faithful Hebrew saints will rule with them over the Gentile nations (Rev. 2:26-27). 

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also
Does this sound like 1 Thess. 4:16-17? Things that are similar are not the SAME. Christ never taught the little flock of believing Israel to look for Him to secretly rapture them up to heaven before the tribulation! He prepared them for the tribulation (Matt. 24), and told them to watch for His return to the earth after the tribulation. When He comes comes again to the earth, He will send His angels to gather Israel together from the four winds (Isa. 43:1-7) so they can reign with Him in the land of promise (Matt. 24:29-31). 

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Gospel of John Does Not Reveal This Present Age

Most fundamental preachers believe that this present dispensation began before Paul’s ministry, and there are some verses in the Gospel Records that they commonly use as proof texts to support their claim. They especially like to use the Gospel of John because they think it was written to Gentiles (it emphasizes “world”) and that it reveals the gospel of the grace of God (it emphasizes “believe”), but neither is the case. John emphasized the world because he wrote with an emphasis on the deity of Christ and because Christ will establish a worldwide kingdom. He emphasized believing because his book works in harmony with the other gospel records which emphasize repentance.

John plainly stated why he wrote the book: 

John 20:30-31 
[30] And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 
[31] But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Many think that the Gospel of John is written primarily to the Gentiles, but SIGNS are for the Jews (1 Cor. 1:22). The profession of faith required to enter the kingdom is to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16-19; Jn. 1:49; 6:69; 11:27; Acts 8:35-37). That is NOT a sufficient profession to be saved in this age! Yes, we need to know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, but specifically that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again for our justification (1 Cor. 15:1-4). 

Let’s consider the passages most often used in the Gospel of John to support the claim that this present dispensation began in the earthly ministry of Christ.

John 1:17 
[17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

This verse can’t mean that the dispensation of grace began with the earthly ministry of Christ, because that would contradict what Christ Himself said about His ministry (Matt. 5:17-20). This verse is not making a statement about when the dispensation of grace began. If John was saying that the dispensation of grace came by the earthly ministry of Christ, then he would also be saying that there was also a dispensation of truth that came by Christ. There was grace and truth before the incarnation, but when Christ came He manifested grace and truth more fully (vs.14-18). The reason for the contrast between Moses and Christ is to show the difference between the old and the new covenants. Besides, the Bible plainly says that Paul was given the dispensation of the grace of God for the Gentiles (Eph. 3:2).

John 1:29 
[29] The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

This verse is often misused to teach that John the Baptist preached the same gospel that we preach today. John the Baptist preached the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 3:1-6), not the gospel of the grace of God (Gal. 1:11-12). He warned about the “wrath to come” that would fall on those who rejected his message (Matt. 3:7-12). The LAMB will open the seven seals in the tribulation period when the day of His wrath comes (Rev. 6:1, 12-17). In opening the seven seals, He will be taking away the sin of the world in the sense of judgment. John the Baptist did not understand the suffering of Christ (Matt. 11:1-6). Even the twelve apostles did not understand the death of Christ until after His resurrection (Lk. 18:31-34). 

John 10:16 
[16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

If the plain words in Eph. 3 have any meaning (and of course they do, God says what He means and means what He says), we know Christ is not referring to the Body of Christ in this passage. Besides, since when is one fold with one shepherd the same thing as one body with one head? The sheep Christ is talking about in John 10 are said to be in His hand (vs.27-30). That is certainly a secure place to be, but it's even better to be His hand (1 Cor. 12:13)! I am not saying there aren't any spiritual applications in Jn. 10 for us. Christ also laid down His life for us (vs.14-18). Paul referred to the church as a flock (Acts 20:28). But the doctrinal interpretation is not about us. Christ did not say the "one fold" was a mystery. According to prophecy, the scattered sheep of Israel will be re-gathered and united as one in the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven will not be divided like Israel's kingdom was for most of its history (Ezek. 34:20-31; Ezek. 37:15-28). Because Christ came to CONFIRM the promises made to the Jewish fathers (Rom. 15:8), we know that what He said in John 10 was based on prophecy. There was only a remnant of Jews in the land during the earthly ministry of Christ. Most of them were scattered among the nations (Acts 2:5-11). Christ said that He was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24). If Christ had Gentiles in mind in Jn. 10:16, then He was talking about the nations that will enter the kingdom, not the Body of Christ (see the “sheep” nations in Matt. 25:31-46). There will be a distinction between Israel and the nations in the kingdom. Israel will reign over the Gentiles, but there is neither Jew nor Gentile in the one spiritual Body of Christ. The way most Bible teachers interpret Jn. 10:16 is a classic example of anticipating revelation. They take truth that Christ revealed from heaven through the apostle Paul and read in back into the earthly ministry of Christ. 

John 11:47-54
[47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 
[48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 
[49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 
[50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 
[51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 
[52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 
[53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 
[54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

I see no problem with a man like Caiaphas prophesying in light of the fact God allowed Balaam (Num. 22-24) and King Saul (1 Sam. 19:18-24) to prophesy. He prophesied that Christ would die, but he certainly didn’t understand the true meaning and purpose of it. John takes that prophecy and applies it in a deeper sense (vs.51-52) in light of the knowledge he had when he wrote by inspiration. I think that “the children of God scattered abroad” refers to the believing remnant of the dispersion (Jam. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1) who were technically not of that nation (Acts 2:5, “of every nation under heaven”) but would be gathered back into the land at the second coming (Matt. 24:31). The twelve tribes of Israel will be gathered as ONE in the kingdom on the basis of the blood of the new covenant.

John 17:20-23
[20] Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 
[21] That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 
[22] And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 
[23] I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

The kingdom church will be one in Christ. They will be filled with the Holy Ghost. They will dwell with God and God will be in them. In the eternal state the Lord will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10), but that will not remove the distinction between Israel, Gentiles, and the Body of Christ. How were we made members of the Body of Christ? By believing the word of the twelve apostles (Jn. 17:20-21)? No, it is by the word of THE apostle to the Gentiles (Eph. 3:6). Notice that sanctification is mentioned just before He prays that “that they all may be one” (17:14-19). Being sanctified, they are all made one in the Lord. This is connected with Heb. 2:11-12. The “church” in Heb. 2:12 is the “congregation” of Ps. 22:22-28. It is the prophesied kingdom church (Matt. 16:18). 

Why is that so many Bible teachers just refuse to acknowledge the distinct ministry that Christ gave Paul for us in this age? They accuse us of magnifying Paul as a man, but nothing could be further from the truth! Paul himself said that he was "less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8). But Christ gave him an "abundance of revelations" (2 Cor. 12:7) and the grace to make them known. We seek to follow Paul, even as he followed Christ, because that's what the BIBLE tells us to do (1 Cor. 11:1). 

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