Monday, November 26, 2018

Was Peter a Steward of the Same Mysteries as Paul?

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Cor. 4:1)

Some claim that because Peter was mentioned in 1 Cor. 3:22, that Paul also had Peter in mind in 1 Cor. 4:1. They think this proves Peter and Paul had the same ministry. The text does not specifically say that Paul had Peter in mind. The “us” goes back to 1 Cor. 3:4-5 (us = Paul and Apollos). Also, Paul said that the things he gave in a “figure” (laborer, builder, steward) applied to Apollos and himself (1 Cor. 4:6). He mentioned Peter in 1 Cor. 3:22 because of what he said back in 1 Cor. 1:12 (the carnal Corinthians were glorying in men, 3:21). Peter was a steward of the mysteries of the kingdom (Matt. 13:11), and he understood them (Matt. 13:51-52). Peter knew that God had given Paul a special ministry for this present age, but he confessed that didn’t fully understand the mysteries that Paul wrote about in his epistles (2 Pet. 3:15-16). How could Peter be a faithful steward of mysteries he didn’t understand? Also, in his epistles, Peter did not even mention the mysteries that Christ revealed to Paul (such as the Body of Christ and our rapture). 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Dispensational Salvation

One of the most important things about right division is that it enables us to understand and clearly present the only gospel by which sinners are saved in this present age (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Yet, one of the biggest problems that people have with right division concerns the issue of salvation in different ages because the common and traditional view is that salvation is the same for all people in all ages. Most professing Christians believe there is only one gospel in the Bible, not because they personally studied the matter, but because that is what they have always heard.

The common cliché is that "People in the Old Testament were saved by looking toward the cross and people in the New Testament are saved by looking back to the cross." How can that be true when the twelve apostles weren't even looking toward the cross! The fact that they had been preaching the gospel (Lk. 9:1-6) for three years BEFORE Christ began to speak to them about His death, burial, and resurrection, and that they did not understand or believe it (Lk. 18:31-34), PROVES that there are different gospels in the Bible.

There is much confusion on this issue, and I have to say that some of the blame is to be laid at the feet of dispensational teachers who make it sound like salvation is by works in other dispensations. God has never and will never accept the works of sinful flesh (Jn. 6:63; Rom. 7:18; 8:8).

I am going to give you five points that I hope will help you to better understand the dispensational truth of the word of God concerning salvation.

1. The basis of salvation in every age is the blood of Christ.
The death and resurrection of Christ is the only basis upon which God can save a sinner in any age. It was planned before the world began and prophesied in the OT. However, it was not understood or preached as good news until after it was accomplished (1 Cor. 2:8). Its full meaning was a mystery revealed through Paul’s gospel (Gal. 1:11-12). The cross-work of Christ is the secret to God’s dealings with sinners in every age, but it was not fully revealed until this present age. By faith, the OT saints obeyed the commandments of the law and brought the required sacrifices for their sins. Through forbearance God allowed the blood of bulls and of goats (that cannot take away sins, Heb. 10:4) to cover sins because He knew the blood of Christ would be shed for the remission of sins (Rom. 3:25).

2. The condition for salvation in every age is essentially faith.
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The eleventh chapter of Hebrews demonstrates that men before the law and under the law obtained a good report from God by faith. Why did God accept the sacrifice of Abel? He brought it by faith (Heb. 11:4).

3. The object of faith in every age is the word of God.
Faith is not just believing. Everybody believes in something, but not everybody has faith (2 Thess. 3:2). Faith is believing the word of God (Rom. 4:3-5; 10:17).

4. The content of faith is not the same in every age because God has not given man the same message in every age.
God has not always told men not to do any works but to simply trust the finished work of Christ alone for salvation as He does in this age (Rom. 4:5). In time past, He required works of men to prove their faith, and He will do so again after this age. If God requires works, real faith will seek to do those works (Jam. 2:14-26), but the works in and of themselves have never and will never save a sinner. A man’s faith must be proven. Why doesn’t God require us to do works to prove our faith in this age? We are justified by "the faith of Christ" (Gal. 2:16; 3:22-23) and His faith is perfect and proven!

The word “gospel” means good news from God. As good as God is, do you really think that he has only had one message of good news throughout the ages? For example, here are four gospel messages in the Bible that are not the same gospel we are to preach in this age:
1.) Preached to Abraham (Gal. 3:8)
2.) Preached to Israel in the wilderness (Heb. 3:7-4:2)
3.) Kingdom (Matt. 4:23; 24:14)
4.) Everlasting (Rev. 14:6-7)

5. The results of faith are not the same in every age because God has not given believers in every age the same position, blessings, and destiny. There is doctrine revealed in Paul’s epistles concerning the position, blessings, and destiny of the Body of Christ that we do not find in the OT, Gospels, or Hebrews through Revelation and we must not try to force things that are different to be the same. This information is only found in Paul’s epistles because he is the one to whom the glorified Christ from Heaven revealed it. Christ committed these truths to Paul to make it known. Our position as members of the Body of Christ means that nothing can separate us from the love of God (compare Rom. 8:35-39 with John 15:10 and Jude 21). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and therefore would never have to pray, "take not thy holy spirit from me" as David did (Ps. 51:11). The Spirit of the Lord will never depart from us as He did from King Saul (compare 1 Sam. 16:14 with Eph. 4:30). We are never told to endure unto the end (Matt. 24:13), but rather that Christ will confirm us unto the end (1 Cor. 1:8). Our blessings are spiritual and in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3), not material blessings on earth (Deut. 28). We did not obtain our blessings by keeping the commandments of the law but by being in Christ. The Body of Christ is destined to reign with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6-7). It is Israel that is destined to reign on the earth (Ex. 19:5-6; Rev. 5:10).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Eph. 1:13 vs. Jam.1:18

One of the most important things about right division is that it enables us to understand and clearly present the only gospel by which sinners are saved in this present age of grace. The "word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) can refer to the scripture in general (Ps. 119:43; 2 Cor. 6:7), or to the gospel in particular.

The gospel of the grace of God is "the word of truth" by which we are saved today (Eph. 1:13), but the gospel of the kingdom is "the word of truth" by which Israel will be saved in the future (Jam. 1:18). Failure to rightly divide these messages leads to confusion and false doctrine.

Let's compare the word of truth in Ephesians with the word of truth in James.

1. Paul wrote to those who were uncircumcised Gentiles (Eph. 2:11-12), but James wrote to the twelve tribes of Israel (Jam. 1:1).

2. The gospel that Paul preached had to do with a mystery hid from the prophets (Eph. 3:1-6; 6:19-20), but the gospel Peter, James, and John preached was a prophesied message (1 Pet. 1:9-13; 23-25).

3. Paul taught that salvation is by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9, justification by the faith OF Christ), but James taught that a man is not justified until he proves his faith by his works (Jam. 1:21-27; 2:14-26).

4. Paul taught that believers are sealed with the Spirit the moment they believe the gospel (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30 = eternal security), but James taught that believers must endure faithfully to the end (Jam. 1:12; 5:7-11).

Things that are different are not the same!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Things that Differ

In spite of the fact that the word of God plainly tells believers in this present age to follow the apostle Paul (e.g. 1 Cor. 11:1), many professing Christians resent that idea when presented with it and claim to follow the whole Bible instead. That is not even possible because God’s word has different things to say to different people living under different dispensations. Even a casual reading of the Bible reveals that there are different instructions given concerning the same issues! For example, concerning the simple matter of what we are to eat, are you going to follow the instructions God gave Adam, Noah, Moses, or Paul?

All of the Bible is the word of God and is therefore profitable FOR us (2 Tim. 3:16), but it is not all written TO us (2 Tim. 2:15). We need to read and study the whole Bible. When we come across something that does not line up with what the apostle Paul taught in his epistles, we are to follow what CHRIST said through Paul directly to us in this present age (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13).

All of the truth in the Bible is good, but there are things that are more excellent for us in this present age of grace (Phil. 1:9-11). The law revealed through Moses for Israel was more excellent than what all of the other nations lived by (Rom. 2:17-20). However, under grace we have something more excellent than the law (Phil. 3:1-10)!

Here is a list of 23 examples that prove you cannot follow everything the Bible says, and that it must be rightly divided to be understood. 

COMPARE (1 Cor. 2:13)

1) Gospel - Matt. 4:23; 17:22-23; 24:14 with Acts 20:24; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Col. 1:5-6

2) Audience – Matt. 10:5-7; Lk. 24:47; Acts 11:19 with Acts 26:17; 1 Tim. 2:4

3) Salvation - Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38 with Acts 16:30-31; Eph. 2:8-9

4) Justification - Jam. 2:24 with Rom. 3:28; 4:5

5) Righteousness - Deut. 6:24-25; Lk. 1:6; Rev. 19:8 with Phil. 3:4-10

6) Forgiveness - Matt. 6:14-15 with Eph. 4:32

7) Acceptance - Acts 10:35 with Titus 3:5; Eph. 1:6

8) Love of God - Jn. 15:10; Jude 21 with Rom. 8:38-39

9) Security - Matt. 24:13 with 1 Cor. 1:8

10) Sealed with Spirit - 1 Sam. 16:14; Ps. 51:11 with Eph. 4:30

11) Blessings - Deut. 28:1-5 with Eph. 1:3

12) Coming of the Lord - Matt.24:15 (signs) with Phil. 3:20 (no signs)

13) Law - Matt. 23:1-3 with Rom. 6:14

14) Diet - Lev. 11:46-47 with 1 Tim. 4:1-6

15) Circumcision - Gen. 17:9-14 with Gal. 5:2

16) Holy days - Lev. 23:1-3 with Gal. 4:8-11; Col. 2:16

17) Water Baptism - Matt. 28:19 with 1 Cor. 1:17

18) Signs - Mk. 16:17-18 with 1 Cor. 13:8-13

19) Teachers - 1 Jn. 2:27 with Eph. 4:11

20) Prayer - Matt. 21:22 with 2 Cor. 12:8-9

21) Provision - Acts 4:34-35 with 1 Thess. 4:11-12

22) Riches - Matt. 19:21-24; Jam. 5:1 with 1 Tim. 6:17-19

23) Giving - Mal. 3:6-10 with 2 Cor. 9:7

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