Monday, March 26, 2018

Privilege and Responsibility

What a great privilege it is to have the inspired word of God preserved in our language! With great privilege comes great responsibility.

Here are seven things that we should do with our Bible every day. 

1)      Read (Isa. 34:16) – Become familiar with its contents

2)      Study (2 Tim. 2:15) – Examine carefully to understand what your reading

3)      Meditate (Josh. 1:8; 1 Tim. 4:15) – Think deeply upon the truth you study

4)      Hide, or Dwell (Ps. 119:11; Col. 3:16) – It becomes part of you

5)      Apply (Prov. 22:17-21; 23:12) – Take it personally 

6)      Obey (Rom. 6:17) – Doctrine is very practical 

7)      Teach (2 Tim. 2:2) – Don't keep the truth to yourself

Monday, March 19, 2018

Stand Fast and Hold Fast

The apostle Paul exhorted believers to "stand fast" six times in his epistles. In each case he was exhorting a church to stand fast in an area in which they were having problems. To "stand fast" is to take a firm, fixed, and settled position on a matter. It is to be "stedfast and unmoveable" (1 Cor. 15:58). This is a much needed exhortation in these last days of compromise and apostasy. While many are being "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14), may God help us to stand fast! 

Stand Fast: 

1. In the faith (1 Cor. 16:13) - The Corinthians were listening to false teachers who denied the doctrine of bodily resurrection. Paul often referred to "the faith" which is the body of doctrine Christ revealed through him for this present age. We must stand fast in sound doctrine!

2. In the liberty (Gal. 5:1) - The Galatians were being moved away from the gospel of the grace of God and liberty in Christ back to the bondage of legalism.

3. In one spirit (Phil. 1:27) - The Philippians were dealing with strife as a result of not thinking with the mind of Christ (2:1-5). 

4. In the traditions (2 Thess. 2:15) - The Thessalonians were being moved away from the blessed hope of the pre-tribulation rapture that Paul delivered to them. The only traditions (that which has been delivered) were are to keep today are those given by inspiration of God in Paul's epistles.

5. In the Lord (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 3:8) - The only way we can stand fast in the truth is to stand fast in the Lord. In other words, we must depend on His strength and not our own. All believers are in the Lord (position), but not all stand fast in Him (practice). We can stand fast in the evil day if we put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20). 

Paul also exhorted believers to "hold fast," which is similar to standing fast. 

Hold fast:

6. That which is good (1 Thess. 5:21) - Prove everything you hear with the word of God (Acts 17:11). Reject the traditions of men and hold fast to the truth of God. 

7. The form of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13) - The form of sound words (pure and wholesome) are found in Romans through Philemon ("heard of me"). Paul's epistles are "wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 6:3). It is apostasy in this age to deny the distinctive message and ministry that Christ gave the apostle Paul (2 Tim. 1:15). 

8. The faithful word (Titus 1:9) - The word of God is faithful, but it has many gainsayers (those who oppose and speak against it). As the gainsayers attack our doctrine, we just need to keep holding fast to it. By the sound doctrine of the faithful word we exhort the believers and convince the gainsayers. What are we to do when people will not endure sound doctrine? Keep preaching the word (2 Tim. 4:1-5)! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Is the Rapture Imminent?

The word "imminent" is an adjective that is used to indicate something is about to happen. The biblical expression is "at hand," which means it is near (e.g. Jer. 23:23). When we say that the rapture of the Body of Christ is imminent, we are saying that it could happen at any moment. Although the words "imminent" and "rapture" are not in the Bible, the doctrine which they signify certainly is. 

Our rapture was a mystery revealed through the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:51). When we compare all the scripture given through Paul on the rapture with what the scripture says concerning the second coming of Christ, it is clear that they are two different events. Jesus Christ gave many signs that must be fulfilled before His return to the earth (Matt. 24). Paul did not give us any signs that must be fulfilled before the rapture can take place, but simply exhorted us to look for that blessed hope (Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:13). We don't know when Christ is coming for us, but we know that He could come today. 

False teachers tried to convince the church at Thessalonica that the day of the Lord was at hand (which would mean they were in the tribulation period). That the church was facing great persecution made them more susceptible to believing that lie. Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians to correct this false teaching. In chapter 2 he shows how that the day of Christ (same as the day of the Lord in this context) was NOT at hand (2 Thess. 2:1-2). They were not seeing the events described in vs.3-12, nor would they. The Body of Christ has been "chosen to salvation" (vs.13-14) from the wrath to come. The prophesied events that will be fulfilled in the 70th week of Daniel do not concern the mystery of the Body of Christ. They cannot be fulfilled until we are "taken out of the way" (v.7). The mystery of this present age is withholding the Antichrist from being revealed (v.6). 

Paul taught the Body of Christ that the second coming of Christ is NOT at hand. However, there are passages in which Paul taught that our rapture is "at hand." This proves that the rapture and second coming are two different events. 

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. 

Philippians 4:5
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 

That Paul is referring to rapture in v.5 is clear from the context (3:20-21). 

That the rapture is at hand does not mean we should not make any plans for tomorrow. Paul made plans (1 Cor. 16:1-8), but he was careful to add, "if the Lord permit" (v.7). Some claim that believing the rapture is imminent has a negative effect on believers. I don't know what they are talking about! Believing that the Lord could come today is a great source of comfort to me (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11). It is also a great motivation in Christian service (1 Thess. 2:19-20; Titus 2:11-14). To wait for Christ from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10) means that we are serving Him (1 Thess. 1:9) as we wait for Him to catch us up to meet Him in the air.


Monday, March 5, 2018

The Gap "Theory"

Is there a gap, or interval, between the first two verses of Genesis? In other words, does Gen. 1:2 describe God’s creative work, or His judgment? I believe it describes His judgment in response to the fall of Lucifer.

I. Creation (1:1) – eternity past
II. Destruction (1:2) – eternity past
III. Reconstruction (1:3-2:3) – done in 6 literal 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago 

The six days are clearly marked. Each days begins with, "And God said," and ends with, "And the evening and the morning were..."

This is not an issue to fight about, or to break fellowship over. So, why does it matter? I believe that it is very much connected to right division and the mystery of the Body of Christ. It also helps us understand some things about Satan and his policy of evil.

I think that most Christians reject what is commonly referred to as the “gap theory” because they have been told that it was invented in the 1800’s by a preacher named Chalmers (1780-1847) as a compromise to accommodate Darwin’s theory of evolution. The opponents of the gap theory like to use the tactic of “guilt by association” by constantly associating it with evolution.

Henry Morris wrote, “One of the popular devices for trying to accommodate the evolutionary ages of the geologists and astronomers in the creation record of the Bible has been the "gap theory"—also called the "ruin-and-reconstruction" theory… The gap theory was developed mainly for the purpose of accommodating the great ages demanded by evolutionary geologists.”

Chalmers was NOT the first one to teach the gap, and he did believe the six days of Gen. 1 were literal 24-hour periods. He was NOT and evolutionist. He taught on it BEFORE Darwin wrote the Origin of the Species in 1859.

“In 1814 Chalmers lectured on the concept of gap creationism, also known as the "gap theory", and subsequently spread its popularity of this idea which he credited to Episcopius (1583-1643). He wrote of Genesis 1:1: "My own opinion, as published in 1814, is that it forms no part of the first day but refers to a period of indefinite antiquity when God created the worlds out of nothing. The commencement of the first day's work I hold to be the moving of God's Spirit upon the face of the waters. We can allow geology the amplest time . . . without infringing even on the literalities of the Mosaic record…"

A Plymouth Brethren preacher by the name of Pember (1837-1910) taught the gap in a book called, “Earth’s Earliest Ages.” Bullinger taught the gap, and so did Scofield in his Reference Bible. The well-known dispensationalist Clarence Larkin also wrote about it in several of his books. In fact, most of the dispensational books that I have in my library which deal with Gen. 1 teach the gap. None of the men I read after were evolutionists. I don’t agree with everything they taught about the gap, just that there is a gap.

My view on this issue is not based on the teaching of men. It is based on personal Bible study. My reasons for believing there is a gap has nothing to do with the age of the earth. Time seems to be the panacea for evolutionists, but macroevolution could not take place even if we allowed for zillions of years. I personally don’t care about the fossil record, but I think that creationists make a mistake when they stake so much on the age of the earth. The Bible does not make that the issue! The Bible does NOT say how old the earth is. Some think it is millions of years old, others claim it is only 6,000 years old. Both sides have evidence to support their view. How can that be? There are things about the earth and our solar system that are both old and young and the gap is the explanation for that.

It is not possible to know how long-ago God created the original earth because He did not reveal that information. Neither can we know how long the period was that elapsed between the creation of the original earth and the reconstruction of it. The length of that period is not the issue. The real issue is WHY was there a judgment?

Why would people think that nothing came into existence until about 6,000 years ago? Because that is when mankind came into existence, and it is all about us, isn’t it? Do you really think our infinite and eternal God created nothing until about 6,000 years ago?

Many opponents of the gap claim we have NO scriptural reasons to believe what we do. They claim that they just believe the Bible and that we are following men and that we are intimidated by science. Creation scientists generally lack in understanding the word of God. Few of them believe the KJB, and even fewer rightly divide the word of truth.

Here are some (not all) Bible reasons to believe the "Gap Theory."

1. The apostle Paul referred to Gen. 1:2-4 as a type of salvation (2 Cor. 4:6). Man was created, ruined by sin, but all who believe on Christ are regenerated (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10). God used His Spirit and His word to bring us out of darkness into light (Acts 26:18)! F.W. Grant wrote, “This thought of a ruined condition of the earth succeeding its original creation, so far from being merely an attempt to meet the demands of geology, is no less required by the typical view. It is the new birth of a fallen creature which is depicted in the first day’s work.”

2. There has been a rebellion against God in both heaven (before the world began) and earth (since the world began). God has a twofold purpose that involves reconciling the heaven and earth back to His government (Col. 1:16). God's purpose to establish His kingdom on the earth has to do with Israel, and is what he spoke about through His prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21). The mystery of the Body of Christ has to do with God’s purpose from BEFORE the world began (2 Tim. 1:9), but was kept secret until it was first revealed through the apostle Paul. I believe it was God’s response to a rebellion among the heavenly host. Lucifer challenged God. We know that the angels existed before God laid the foundations of the earth and set the boundaries of the seas (Job 38:1-11). If they were created during the six days, why wouldn’t that be mentioned in Gen. 1? The creation of man was God’s response to Lucifer’s challenge. Human history is the laboratory in which man is tested and God proves that His way is best. Adam was placed in the very area that God’s city and throne once was. Satan devised a plan to usurp Adam’s dominion.

3. Every verse in Gen. 1 begins with “And" which always moves the narrative forward and never refers to the previous verse. Therefore v.2 is not a description of v.1. Note the PERIOD in v.1! The descriptive words in 1:2 match other verses that clearly speak of judgment. The prophet Jeremiah said, "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light" (Jer. 4:23). This is the only other reference to “without form and void” in the Bible. How did the earth become "without form, and void"? Jeremiah said that it was by "the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger" (Jer. 4:26). I realize that Jeremiah is speaking of a future judgment, but by comparing scripture with scripture (1 Cor. 2:13) we learn that the earth becomes "without form, and void" as a result of God's judgment. The words "deep" and "darkness" are associated with God's judgment in many verses in the Bible.

4. God plainly declared that He did not create the earth in vain (Isa. 45:18). God does not create anything in stages. For example, the Bible does not say, “God created the beasts, and the beasts were without form and void...” To suggest He spoke an earth that was without form and void belittles His power ("his work is perfect," Deut. 32:4).

5. Opponents of the gap accuse us of reading something into the passage that is not there. There are other places in the Bible where there is a gap skipped over in the passage, and we understand that by cross-referencing (Dan. 9:26-27). Just because God does not reveal why the judgment occurred in Genesis 1 does not mean that it didn’t. We must compare scripture with scripture. God wrote the Bible in such a way that we must search the scriptures if we are going to gain spiritual understanding. That no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation is proof of inspiration.

6. There is a difference between the words “created” (bring into existence out of nothing) and “made” (use pre-existing materials). The word “created” is only used twice in the six days. There are passages that use both words concerning the same subject, because both words can apply to different aspects of the same subject. For example, God created man's soul, but He made his body from the dust of the ground. Notice concerning plant life that the “earth brought forth” what was already there (Gen. 1:9-13).

7. Adam was told to “replenish the earth” just as He told Noah to replenish the earth after the flood (Gen. 9:1). Adam was a son of God. There were sons of God (angels) on earth before Adam. The corrupt Bibles say “fill” instead of “replenish” in Gen. 1:28. There is a difference between "fill" and "replenish.” God used the word "fill" in reference to marine life (1:22). Therefore, there must not have been a sea on the original earth in eternity past just as there will not be a sea on the new earth in eternity future (Rev. 21:1).

8. The original earth being destroyed by water is referred to in 2 Peter 3:4-6. Some say that 2 Pet. 3:6 refers to Noah’s flood. The world did not “perish” in Noah’s flood (Noah, his family, and many animals did not perish). Notice that the flood in v.6 is in the context of “the beginning of the creation” (v.4). The past judgment Peter is speaking of corresponds with how God will once again destroy the heavens and earth that He might make a new heaven and earth (vs.8-13). The heavens were not destroyed in Noah’s flood. 

9. There is a connection between history and prophecy (Ecc.1:9). There is a correspondence between how the Bible opens and closes (Gen. 1:1; Rev. 21:1). There is a future rebellion of Satan which results in the destruction and restoration of heaven and earth (Rev. 20:7-21:1), and so it was in eternity past. Earth is in the center of the universe and it will be the command center where God will put His city and throne. I believe the city was here in eternity past. Eternity future corresponds with eternity past.

10. Some say that there could not have been sin or death on earth until Adam sinned. They use Rom. 5:12 as a proof text, but that verse is only talking about the world of mankind. Lucifer and Eve sinned before Adam. Some gap opponents even claim that the gap undermines the gospel! They also say that if Lucifer fell before Gen. 2:3 then God could not have said that everything He made was good (1:31). The first thing He says was good is Light in v. 4 (Lucifer fell between v.1 and 2). God’s statement in v.31 is limited to what He made during the 6 days in 1:3-30 and refers to the earth and its solar system (Satan’s primary habitation is “in heaven” – Job 15:15; Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:7-9). Notice that God did NOT call “Heaven” (second heaven= space) good in 1:8.

I answer five common objections to the gap in Q&A #14 on our YouTube channel.

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