Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Angels of God

Hebrews 1:1-8
(1)  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
(2)  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
(3)  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
(4)  Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.
(5)  For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
(6)  And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
(7)  And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.
(8)  But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Many people believe in angels, but the majority seem to be ignorant about what the Bible actually says about them. For example, most people don’t even know that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings (just kidding). Seriously, most of the things you hear people say about angels is not in the Bible, and many times is flat contrary to what the Bible says. Among those that know some things concerning what the Bible says about angels, most do not rightly divide the word of truth on this subject. There is a difference between the ministry of angels toward Israel and the Body of Christ. We must base what we believe about angels on the word of God rightly divided, and not sermons, songs, or TV shows.

The words “angel” and “angels” are found 297 times in the King James Bible. They are used 180 times in the New Testament. The apostle Paul, who wrote most of the NT, only used the words 13 times (just once in the prison epistles). He did refer to the angelic realm with other words such as “principalities and powers."

The Bible has much to say about the spirit world (Col. 1:15-17). In his book entitled, The Spirit World (first published in 1921), Clarence Larkin wrote, “The Scriptures are full of the “Supernatural.” The only cure for the “Materialism” of the present day is to discover what the Scriptures reveal as to the “Spirit” World. The dividing veil is our “fleshly” bodies. The “Heavenlies” are peopled with Spirit Beings. They are of two classes, good and evil. They are classified as “Seraphim,” “Cherubim,” “Angels” (Good and Bad), “Principalities,” “Powers,” “Age Rulers of the Darkness,” “Wicked Spirits,” (Eph. 6:12), “Thrones,” “Dominions,” (Col. 1:16), “Fallen Angels,” (2 Pet. 2:4), “Spirits in Prison,” (1 Pet. 3:18-20), “Demons,” “Seducing Spirits.” 1 Tim. 4:1.”

The Bible mentions three prominent spirit beings by name:

1. Lucifer (Isa. 14:12) – the “anointed cherub” that fell in pride and became Satan
2. Michael (Dan. 10:13,21; 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev. 12:7) – “the archangel”
3. Gabriel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Lk. 1:19,26) – “an angel of the Lord”

The etymology of the word “angel” is simple to trace. It comes to us, like so many of our English words, through French and Latin, but originally from the Greek angelos, signifying a messenger, yet much more because many angels in the Bible bring no message at all. They can be scripturally defined as “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14).

In the KJB, the word “angel” is used in reference to the Lord Himself (e.g. Acts 7:30), the spirit of a man (Acts 12:15), but primarily to a distinct and large class of spirit-beings.

Ten basic facts about angels:

1. They were created by God before He laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7)

2. They were created by God to worship and serve Him (Neh. 9:6)

3. They are innumerable (Heb. 12:22: Rev. 5:11)

4. They have personality (they express mind, will, and emotion)

5. They have great wisdom (2 Sam. 14:20)

6. They have great strength (Ps. 103:20; Isa. 37:36; Heb. 2:7; 2 Pet. 2:11)

7. They can make visible appearances, they always appear as men without wings (Gen. 18:1-2; 19:1)

8. They are an organized heavenly host (Dan. 10:13)

9. The angels in heaven do not marry (Matt. 22:30), but that does not mean they cannot procreate (Gen. 6:1-4)

10. They are divided into two main categories: fallen (2 Pet. 2:4) and holy (Matt. 25:31)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Grace Age

Romans 5:12-21
(12) Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
(13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
(14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
(15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
(16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
(17) For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
(18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
(19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
(21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this passage the apostle Paul refers to the “grace of God,” “the gift by grace,” “abundance of grace,” and the wonderful truth that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Notice in v.21 that whereas sin reigned in time past, grace is REIGNING today through the righteousness of Christ. Paul refers to salvation as a "gift" six times in the passage.

Grace has to do with showing favor and kindness to those who do not deserve it. Ever since the fall of man, God has shown grace to sinners. By grace He provided a covering for Adam and Eve ("grace" is found 39 times in OT). However, in this present age, God is showing His grace to a much greater degree than ever before (131 times in NT, 91 times by Paul). There is a difference between grace in an age, and an age of grace. There is a difference between grace in a dispensation, and a dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2). The apostle Paul describes the grace of God with superlatives like “abundance” and “exceeding abundant.” In this age God is reaching down lower than He ever has that He might lift up sinners higher than He ever has (Eph. 2:1-6)!

God has a twofold purpose that is implied in the first verse of the Bible. The prophetic program concerns God’s purpose to establish His kingdom on the EARTH through Israel. He chose that nation to be a kingdom of priests. They rejected the Father in the OT, the Son in the Gospels, and the Holy Ghost in Acts. At the stoning of Stephen everything was ready for God to pour out wrath (Acts 7:56), but instead He poured out grace! He saved the leader of the rebellion against Him (Acts 9), and revealed His secret purpose concerning the HEAVENLY places through him. The Body of Christ is one new spiritual man seated with Christ in heavenly places, and destined to reign with Him eternally in the heavens. God is not at war with the world in this age, but rather He has sent out His ambassadors with a message of peace and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

However, make no mistake about it, the "wrath to come" will come and the "day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2) will give way to the "day of his wrath" (Rev. 6:17) AFTER the Lord’s ambassadors are called home to heaven in the rapture. There is a difference between an age and a dispensation, but they are related. Ages are periods of time ("other ages," "ages to come"), and dispensations have to do with how God is dealing with man during the ages. Christ dispensed the revelations of this present age through Paul, and the grace he needed to make them known (Eph. 3:1-13).

We may rightly call this present age the Grace Age because:

I. We are SAVED by Grace (Rom. 3:24; 11:6)

The only gospel by which we are saved in this present age is the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Eph. 1:13). To add any works of man whatsoever to the gospel of the grace of God is to pervert it (Gal. 1:6-12).

II. We STAND in Grace (Rom. 5:1-2)
We are not living under a performance-based religious system. We are not working for acceptance with God because he has already accepted us in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). I don't have to keep myself in fellowship with God, or work to stay on “praying ground.” We live under grace (Rom. 6:14). This means that the core operating principle in the believer’s relationship with God and others is grace. The law said, "Do and be blessed." Grace says, "You are blessed, now do." Living under grace is not about liberty to sin, but liberty from sin (see Rom. 6).

III. We SERVE by grace (Rom. 12:1-8)
Christ has a role for every member of His Body to fulfill (Eph. 4:16). The sign gifts ceased with the setting aside of Israel and the completion of the word of God (1 Cor. 13:8-13). However, the principle of God giving us the grace we need to fulfill our responsibilities in the ministry still applies today.

In light of these wonderful truths, shouldn't we be emphasizing the grace of God? It is the only way that sinners are saved! It is the only way saints are going to live for God. Several years ago, someone tried to warn me about my emphasis on grace. He said that we also needed the law. The law does not stop, or even reduce sin our lives (1 Cor. 15:56)! It is the grace of God that teaches us how to live godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-15). Do you know the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:6)?

Monday, December 4, 2017

What God Wrote With His Own Hand

The Bible is the word of God. The Lord inspired every word of it (2 Tim. 3:16), and He has kept His words pure throughout the generations just as He promised (Ps. 12:6-7). He used men to write His words, but in the Bible, there are three occasions when God Himself wrote something with His own hand. Each occasion is associated with a different member of the Godhead, and each occasion was for a different purpose.

I. The Father Wrote Commandments (Ex. 31:18; 32:15-16)
After God delivered Israel out of Egypt, He gave them His righteous law and made a covenant with them. If they kept His commandments, they would be blessed, but if they didn’t, they would be cursed. The law contained 613 commandments under three main categories: ceremonial, civil, and moral. God wrote the ten commandments Himself on two tables of stone (Deut. 4:13). Christ divided the ten commandments into two main groups (Matt. 22:35-40). Nine of the ten commandments are moral principles that still apply today (the sabbath was a sign between God and Israel, Col. 2:16). The human conscience bears witness with the moral law (Rom. 2:14-15). Self-righteous religious people think they are going to be saved because they keep the commandments. Yet, most of them can’t even quote the ten commandments! The law was written on cold tables of stone. It commands righteousness, but does not provide it. Therefore, it had a ministry of condemnation and death (2 Cor. 3). It was given to reveal the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man (Rom. 3:19-20). In this present age of grace, we are not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ (Rom. 3:21-28).

II. The Spirit Wrote for Conviction (Dan. 5:1-6, 22-28)
The “part of the hand” that wrote on the wall was sent from God (v.24). The Spirit of God used the writing to bring conviction to the heart of the evil king. Belshazzar knew who the true and living God was, and yet he praised his idols while drinking wine out of the vessels from the temple in Jerusalem. He was weighed in the balance of God’s judgment and was found wanting. He was so convicted that he was shaking in his boots and his knees were knocking. The handwriting on the wall for all sinners is that we deserve death and hell. You will not trust Christ as your Savior until you are convicted by the Spirit of your lost condition.

III. The Son Wrote in Compassion (Jn. 8:1-11)
This passage is omitted from the corrupt Vaticanus and Siniaticus manuscripts. The new versions, which rely on those corrupt manuscripts, contain footnotes that cast doubt on the authenticity of the passage. The scribes and Pharisees contrived this situation (where was the man they caught her with, Lev. 20:10?) in an effort to find fault with Christ. If He said that she should be stoned, they would claim He lacked love and mercy. If He said to let her go, they would claim that He didn’t follow the law. Of course, the Lord handled it in perfect wisdom and the result was that the woman’s accusers walked away under conviction. What did He write? Perhaps it had something to do with Jer. 17:13. Christ had compassion on the guilty woman because He did not come into the world to condemn it, but to provide salvation (Jn. 3:17). We now know, through the revelation in Paul’s epistles, all that Christ accomplished by His cross. Praise God that “There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)!

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