Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Book of Life

Philippians 4:3-4
3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are written in the book of life. 
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice. 

This is the only passage in which the apostle Paul mentions the book of life, but it is mentioned seven times in the book of Revelation. The scripture refers to different books that God keeps, and finding them all makes for an interesting study. Some think the book of life contains the names of all that are born into the world and those who die lost have their name blotted out of it. They see it as a book of natural life. There is such a book, it is called the “book of the living” (Ps. 69:28). I believe the book of life is a different book, and that it contains the names of all those who have eternal life. 

There are people with physical life that are not in the book of life (Rev. 13:8; 17:8)
The book of life is associated with the sacrifice of Christ (Rev. 13:8; 21:27)
Those not written in the book of life will suffer the second death (Rev. 20:11-15)

Some have a problem with the apostle Paul mentioning the book of life when it is so prominent in the book of Revelation (which is not about us). Well, the book of Revelation also talks about redemption through the blood of Christ! In observing the divisions in the Bible, we must be careful not to overlook the connections. I believe that both the mystery saints and the kingdom saints have their names written in the book of life. Eternal life is only found in the Son of God (1 Jn. 5:11-12). He is central and foundational to both programs. Having your name in the book of life is a cause for great rejoicing (v.4; Lk. 10:17-20).

There is, however, an important distinction regrading the book of life. In the coming tribulation period, the saints must labor to stay in the book of life (Rev. 3:1-7; 22:19). The Body of Christ is never given such a warning because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30). The tribulation saints must keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 21), but nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35-39). Under the gospel of the kingdom, a man must prove his faith by his works in order to be justified (Jam. 2:14-26). Under the gospel of the grace of God, we are justified instantly and permanently by the faith of Christ the moment that we believe (Gal. 2:16). In this age of grace, we do not labor to have our names written in the book of life, but we should labor because we are in the book of life (v.3; 2 Cor. 6:1; 1 Cor. 15:10). 

Monday, August 21, 2017

What about Romans 10:9-13?

There seems to be much confusion and conflict these days about the tenth chapter of Romans. Many use vs.9-13 to support the "sinner's prayer" approach to evangelism. They believe that a sinner MUST vocally call upon the Lord in order to be saved and they emphasize prayer over faith. Others, seeing the error of this approach, overcorrect and go to the extreme of claiming that Romans 10 is only for Israel and has no application in this age of grace. Paul was talking about Israel in Romans 9-11, but he is speaking to the Gentiles (11:13). Let's work verse by verse through this chapter simply trying to understand what it says, instead of trying to prove a particular view.
 
Romans 10 is in the middle of the dispensational section of this epistle in which Paul deals with issues concerning Israel. He demonstrates and defends the faithfulness of God to His word concerning Israel. In these three chapters he has something to say about Israel’s past, present, and future.

Chapter 9 – Israel's past election 
Chapter 10 – Israel's present rejection 
Chapter 11 – Israel's future salvation

In the ninth chapter, Paul expressed his deep burden for unbelieving Israel and showed how that despite being God’s chosen nation they had willfully rejected Him. However, there was a remnant that believed the gospel. In the tenth chapter, he demonstrates how that unbelieving Israel was responsible for the condition they were in. The "righteousness which is of faith" (9:30; 10:6) was available to them (vs.6-8), offered to them (vs.12-13), but rejected by them (v.16, 21).

v.1 – Paul had been accused of being anti-Israel, but nothing was further from the truth (9:1-3)! He begins each chapter in this section declaring his burden and desire to see unbelieving Israelites saved. If the unbelieving Israelites were predestinated to damnation, what was the purpose of this prayer? He was driven by the love of Christ which constrained him. How else do you explain his burden for those who were falsely accusing him and persecuting him (11:28-29; 1 Thess. 2:15-16). Paul was praying for their salvation IN THIS PRESENT AGE. There is no need for him to pray for them to be saved at the second coming of Christ, because it is guaranteed by prophecy (Rom. 11:26, the believing remnant that faithfully endures, not every Jew who has ever lived).

v.2 – Paul knew all about their religious zeal because he had been just like them (Gal. 1:13-14). Their zeal was for their TRADITIONS more than the truth of God! Had they really loved the word of God they would have recognized their own Messiah of whom their scriptures prophesied.

v.3 – They were zealous in going about to establish their own righteousness which proved their absolute ignorance of God’s righteousness. In time past God required a man under the law to have the righteousness which is of the law (Deut. 6:24-25; Lk. 1:5-6; Phil. 3:6), but if he TRUSTED in his own righteousness it proved he really didn’t know and believe the law as well as he pretended to (Lk. 18:9-14). But now, the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ has been revealed (Rom. 3:19-28). Like unbelieving Israel, the religious world today is busy trying to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.

v.4 – What is meant by “the end of the law?” Does he mean that Christ is the goal or the termination of the law? Both are true (1 Tim. 1:3-11; Gal. 3:24-25).

v.5 – In chapters 9-11 Paul quotes or alludes to many OT scriptures because he is dealing with Israel in the context. The righteousness of the law was by WORKS. They had to do all of the law, all of the time, and when they failed they had to bring the required sacrifice by faith with a repentant heart (Gal. 3:10).

vs.6-8
In contrast with the righteousness which is of the law, a man doesn't have to do anything to receive the righteousness which is of faith (v.4, 10)! Christ has already come down from heaven to die for our sins and rise again from the dead. It is a finished work offered freely to those who believe. Paul alludes to a passage in the law (Deut. 30:12-14) to show that God has been faithful to make His revelation known to His people (Deut. 29:29; 30:11-20). Paul supplements “Christ” for the “commandment.” Just as God had made His commandment known to Israel, He has now made the righteousness of Christ known and available for them to receive through Paul’s Acts ministry (“to the Jew first”).
 
vs.9-13 - The confession in Matt. 10:32-33 is not the same thing as in Rom. 10:9-10 because the context is different. Paul says nothing in this passage about confessing Christ before men or being denied before the Father if we fail to do so. In the context Paul is not talking about the gospel of the kingdom, but “the word of faith, which WE preach." He did not preach the gospel of the kingdom to Israel in his Acts ministry. There was an election of Jews according to grace that believed Paul's gospel and were baptized into the Body of Christ (Rom. 11:5-6).

Paul is not teaching that we must literally confess with our physical mouth in order to be saved. That would contradict his emphasis upon FAITH as the only condition for salvation, which he already established in the doctrinal section of this epistle (1:16-17; 3:19-28). Also, what about mutes? They can't confess anything audibly! When he said to believe in our heart, he didn't mean that we have to believe with our literal blood pump. He is referring to confession in the sense of heartfelt acknowledgement. We must simply confess that we are the sinner and Christ is the only Savior. Confession is not merely saying words (compare 1 Jn. 4:1-2, 15 with Mk. 5:7-8). We can call upon God from the heart without literally saying words. Besides confession means nothing without believing! Note in v.10 that it is with the HEART we believe unto righteousness. Believing on Christ for salvation is not merely a mental assent, but a heartfelt TRUST (Eph. 1:13). I do believe that we should publicly confess Christ. What is in our heart will come out of our mouth (v.11; Matt. 12:34; 2 Cor. 4:13). But we do not have to verbally and publicly confess Christ TO BE saved. By the way, v.12 is a great dispensational truth for this present age. If this passage is about Israel's future salvation like some claim, why did he say "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek?"

Some claim that prayer is a work and that asking Christ to save you means that you didn't really believe the gospel. Real prayer is a spiritual work in the CHRISTIAN LIFE (Col. 4:12). Saying a simple prayer from a believing heart that is not trusting in anything but the finished work of Christ is not a work. The issue in salvation is not prayer, but faith. I am against telling people that they MUST pray to be saved, but I am also against telling people that they are not saved if they prayed when they believed the gospel. I realize that v.13 is a quote from Joel 2:32 concerning salvation in the future day of the Lord, but Paul is obviously making a spiritual application. Calling upon the Lord means nothing if you don't believe (v.14).
 
vs.14-15 - In these verses Paul proves that Israel could have called on the Lord because God did indeed send preachers to them with a message of peace (Isa. 52:7; defines gospel as good tidings). He sent them the greatest preacher, His own Son (Acts 10:36-38). Christ trained and sent His 12 apostles to Israel with the gospel of the kingdom (Jn. 20:21). Israel rejected and crucified Christ, but they were given an opportunity to repent and a renewed off of the kingdom in the book of Acts (Acts 10:38-43). They rejected the witness of the Holy Ghost through the apostles. In amazing longsuffering God also sent Paul to the Jew first (in Acts period) with the gospel of Christ which is a message of peace to the individual sinner (Eph. 6:15).  

vs.16-18 - That Israel would reject the gospel of the kingdom was prophesied by Isaiah. They were also now rejecting the gospel of Christ. We obey the gospel of Christ by believing it (“obedience of faith”, Rom. 16:26). In v.18 he begins to anticipate and answer objections. They heard the word of God and therefore they could have believed the message. The gospel was going out to the world.

I think that v.17 is a key verse on understanding faith. Faith is not just believing. Everybody believes in something, but not everybody has faith. Faith is believing the word of God. Both salvation (Eph. 1:12-13) and spiritual growth (Eph. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:2) are dependent upon the word of God.

vs.19-21 - Many think that Paul is referring to the Gentiles in v.19. How can the nations be called, “a foolish nation”? God did use the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy (11:11) but BEFORE He did that He was provoking unbelieving Israel with the little flock (Matt. 21:43; Lk. 12:32). They were considered “no people” and a “foolish nation” because of their small size and that they were made up primarily of COMMON people. He poured out His Spirit on them as they preached to Israel and they brought forth the fruits of the kingdom of God. I don't think he is referring to the Gentiles in vs.20-21 either. Christ sent the little flock to preach to the very ones that crucified Him and wanted nothing to do with Him, and they stubbornly persisted in their rejection of Him (Isa. 65:1-7). Paul himself was one of those, but he was saved by exceeding abundant grace. In amazing longsuffering, God also sent Paul to get a remnant out of Israel before He set them aside as a nation (11:1-6). Israel fell in Acts 7 when they stoned Stephen who was filled with the Holy Ghost, but there was a transition period until Acts 28. This remnant explains certain things about Paul’s ministry during the book of Acts. Israel was a disobedient and gainsaying people, yet Paul still had a heart to reach them (v.1)!
 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Babylon is NOT the USA

There is a new teaching gaining momentum through the internet that claims Babylon in the book of Revelation is the USA. This is just another example of giving prophecy a private interpretation in disobedience to the word of God (2 Pet. 1:20-21). We are not to interpret the scripture for the scripture interprets itself to the Bible believer who follows God’s rule of Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15). 

In studying the book of Revelation it is vital to understand that the WHOLE book is a prophecy and therefore cannot be interpreted in light of current events in this mystery age that was hid from the prophets. John was in the future day of the Lord when he received this book (Rev. 1:10). Those who claim that Babylon is the USA arrive at that wrong conclusion because they start with the wrong premise that the prophecy of Revelation is being, and will be, fulfilled in this present age. 

An angel showed the apostle John the judgment of the great whore (Rev. 17:1-2). He was carried away in the spirit into the wilderness to see the whore sitting upon a scarlet colored beast with seven heads and ten horns (Rev. 17:3-6). This stands in stark contrast with the angel carrying John away in the spirit to a great and high mountain to see the bride, the Lamb’s wife, which is the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9-10). The bride will be the inhabitants of a LITERAL city that is described in detail (Rev. 21:11-22:5). The great whore is also a LITERAL city that is decked out with gold, precious stones, and pearls. The name upon her forehead is “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” She is seen to be drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. Most preachers and teachers call her “MYSTERY BABYLON” (without the comma) and claim that she is something besides literal Babylon. Please notice the comma after “MYSTERY.” She is called a MYSTERY and her name is BABYLON. She is the fountainhead of the "mystery of iniquity" (2 Thess. 2:7). 

We do not have to come up with an interpretation as to what John saw, for the angel explained it to him (Rev. 17:7-18). He explains the beast in vs.8-17 and identifies the woman in v.18. She is “that great city” which is Babylon (Rev. 14:8). The beast is the antichrist and the woman is the city of Babylon. I heard one of the preachers who claims that Babylon is the USA say in the same message that the sixth head of the beast is the USA and that the woman is the USA. How can that be? The seven heads are seven mountains (not hills, as commonly taught) that represent seven kingdoms (v.10) out of which the Son of Perdition will establish his kingdom (the eighth, v.11). The ten horns (the horn signifies authority) represent ten kings that will have power with the beast for a very short time (v.12). They will try to make war with the Lamb, but He will overcome them. The ten kings of the beast will turn on the whore to destroy her. The beast is not the whore, and the whore is not the beast. All of this is future and has nothing to do with what is going on in current events today. 

That the woman is seen sitting upon many waters signifies that she reigns over the kings of the earth (v.15, 18) which means she has a global influence. The first great one world government and religion was established by Nimrod in Babel (Gen. 10-11). Babylon is the fountainhead of all idolatry and has many harlot daughters (such as the Roman Catholic Church). Babylon flourished under Nebuchadnezzar but was judged by God after he used her to chasten His people. Babylon will be rebuilt greater than ever in the land of Shinar (Zech. 5:5-11). The battle of Armageddon is not going to take place in the USA, but in the area of Babylon (Rev. 16:12-16). The woman is drunken with the blood of the prophets, saints, and martyrs of Jesus (Rev. 17:6; 18:24). How could that be said of the USA? It can’t. If the city is not literal Babylon, then interpretation of the symbol is also a symbol, which is nonsense. 

Some may ridicule the idea that Babylon in Revelation is the literal city of Babylon because it is not presently the great city that is described in Rev. 18. God’s prophecies may seem unlikely, but they always come to pass. The biggest argument against saying that Babylon is literal Babylon is that it was destroyed in the past and God said it wouldn’t be rebuilt. There are prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah about the destruction of Babylon that look ahead to what is fulfilled in Rev. 18. The Babylon of history was not suddenly destroyed as described in Rev. 18 and there have been inhabitants in the area of historical Babylon since it fell (e.g. Isa. 13:19-22; Jer. 51:8, 37). 

So, what role does the USA have in prophecy? The Bible doesn't say specifically. It will probably be part of the one world government headed up under the antichrist, but it will not be Babylon. 



Monday, August 7, 2017

Neglect

 
1 Timothy 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
 
Proverbs 24:30-34
{30} I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; {31} And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. {32} Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. {33} Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: {34} So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
When the wise man considered the deplorable condition of the field and vineyard, he understood the problem and received instruction from it (someone said, "fools won't learn from the wise, but the wise will learn from fools"). He makes an observation (vs.30-31), an interpretation (v.32), and an application (vs.33-34). He did not blame the thorns and nettles for overtaking and covering it, and he did not blame the stone wall for breaking down over time, because those things would not have happened had there been a diligent farmer taking care of the field and vineyard. The instruction that he received by considering this was that when a man neglects his responsibilities by sleeping when he should be working, little by little, he will eventually come to poverty. It is not a sin for a man to sleep, but it is wrong for a man to be sleeping when he should be working.

The field and vineyard did not get into this condition overnight; it happened little by little. The farmer noticed some thorns and nettles creeping up but thought it was no big deal. After all, a few thorns and nettles would not destroy his whole vineyard. So, he took a nap when he should have been pulling them up. He noticed that a stone had fallen off the wall but thought it was no big deal. After all, the wall was still good enough to keep out the wild beasts. So, he took a nap instead of repairing the wall. The thorns and nettles kept coming, and the stones on the wall kept falling, but the farmer kept sleeping in late, napping in the afternoon, and procrastinating his duties until the condition of his field and vineyard was so bad that it would be a tremendous task to clean it all up. So, he just let it go.

This man was slothful because because he decided to sleep when he should have been working. This man was void of understanding because he didn't understand that he would eventually come to poverty if he continued to neglect the field and vineyard which was his livelihood. The problem was not the thorns, nettles, and broken down wall because that is just the natural course of things (Gen. 3:17-19). The problem was the lazy and foolish man that refused to sweat in order to keep his field and vineyard fruitful. No doubt he had plenty of excuses to justify his laziness (Prov. 26:13-16).

God commanded Adam to work in the garden BEFORE he fell into sin and brought a curse upon the earth. Work is not part of the curse, but the curse does make work harder. It is the will of God for man to work (2 Thess. 3:10-15). To be slothful, or to be a sluggard (Bible words for lazy), is sin. Although it is possible for a person to fall into poverty through tragic circumstances and no fault of their own, the majority of people that are living in poverty in this land of great opportunity are just LAZY. 

Let's apply this passage spiritually. It is possible for a person to be diligent in physical and earthly matters, but be slothful in spiritual and heavenly matters. Let's say that the field and vineyard represents the heart (Prov. 4:23), the home (Ps. 128:3), and the local church (1 Cor. 3:9).

As we look around today we see professing Christians living carnal and worldly lives, homes that are falling apart, and churches that are compromising, decaying, and dying. We blame this evil world and say, "It is hard to live clean in such a dirty world." We blame the devil and say, "he is on the attack as never before." But this world has been evil since the fall of man, and the devil has been on the attack from the beginning. Like thorns, nettles, and a stone wall breaking down, this is just the natural course of things. Let's stop blaming our problems on the world and devil. They are just doing what they have always done.

The real problem is that when we fall asleep spiritually and neglect our spiritual responsibilities, little by little, we become more and more unfruitful and eventually fall into spiritual poverty. When we just passively let things run their natural course, they will always run DOWN.
 
Romans 12:11
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Romans 13:11-14
{11} And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. {12} The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. {13} Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. {14} But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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