spiritual warfare

Excruciating Thursday

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday? 

The “Triumphal” Entry

Sunday, April 13, 2014

“All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:4,5 KJV).

Do you ever wonder why Jesus Christ rode on a donkey the Sunday before His crucifixion?

In today’s Scripture (cf. Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-19), Jesus’s crucifixion on Calvary’s cross is just five days away. Leaving Bethany, He travels to Jerusalem (a mile to the northwest). Israel’s believing remnant in Jerusalem is excited to hear that Messiah is returning to “the city of the great King” (Psalm 48:2; Matthew 5:35); in anticipation, the great multitude throws their garments and palm branches on the ground. As Jesus enters the city, they cry out, “Hosanna [“O save!”]: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; cf. Psalm 118:26).

While often called the “Triumphal Entry,” there really was no victory being celebrated in today’s Scripture—the victory was to come later! What we need to realize is that Jesus Christ was humble (“meek”) here: as a King riding on a donkey into Israel’s capital city, He demonstrated He desired peace with Israel (a fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9). He had not come to destroy her, though He would have been just in doing so; He had come to save her from her sins, her enemies, and her satanic bondage (Matthew 1:21; Mark 2:17; Mark 3:22-30; Luke 1:68-75; Luke 9:55,56; Luke 19:9,10; Acts 3:24-26; et cetera).

Just a few days later, Jesus Christ appeared weak and defeated. He never fought back as the Roman soldiers mercilessly abused Him; He allowed Himself to be crucified on Calvary. It was His meek and lowly coming; now was not the time to pour out His wrath. He resurrected and ascended into heaven as a royal exile. Revelation 19:11 says Jesus Christ will return to Jerusalem on a white horse, a sign of war and wrath (Zechariah 14:1-4)—that will be His true triumphal entry, for He will conquer Satan’s world system forever!

Religion, Riches, and Robbery

Friday, April 4, 2014

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:3 KJV).

Do not let religion “take you for a ride,” for you will end up paying for the trip!

In recent years, news stories involving “filthy rich” bishops, priests, and ministers seem to have become more prevalent. Only after they are caught, they “apologize” for their multimillion-dollar mansions, exotic trips and vehicles, and other lavish expenditures using “church money.” The “peon-parishioners” are forced to contribute to “God’s work” by giving, and, in return, they are reassured that their “merit” will reap “eternal benefits.” Religion is the world’s most profitable business indeed!

Dearly beloved, we must, must, MUST exercise great caution when giving to any ministry or local church. Remember, Jesus sternly rebuked the “thieves” who defiled His Father’s house, the Temple (Matthew 21:12,13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48; John 2:13-17). Our Lord Jesus said these religious leaders “devoured widows’ houses” (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). They did not think twice about taking everything they possibly could from the common Jews! Before the Apostle Paul was saved, as one of these religious leaders, he (as Saul of Tarsus) confessed that he profited in the Jews’ religion above many [his] equals in [his] own nation” (Galatians 1:14). We read about false religious leaders swindling the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:13-20).

In the context of today’s Scripture, the Apostle Peter reminds his Jewish audience that just as the Holy Spirit operated through holy prophets, Satan operated through false prophets (2 Peter 1:19–2:3). These teachers of “damnable heresies” fell into the trap of materialism (1 Timothy 6:6-10) and coveted their converts’ possessions—they preached “feigned” (worthless/fake, but nice-sounding) words. The Prophet Micah, writing circa 750 B.C., reported, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money” (3:11).

God’s grace is not against giving (2 Corinthians chapters 8-10); God’s grace is against tithing (forceful giving). We give “cheerfully” (happily; 2 Corinthians 9:6,7) to sound grace Bible churches and ministries, but, most importantly, we give carefully!

Bible Study 102 #15

Thursday, March 20, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Cognizant of His will, God inspired His Word, that we too may meditate on it. Consequently, Scripture discloses God’s will (Ephesians 1:9,10; 1 Timothy 2:4-8) and provides His power so that we may joyfully fulfill His will with Him as the indwelling Holy Spirit works in us who believe that grace doctrine (Hebrews 4:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18; Ephesians 3:16-21; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:6-8). God’s Word leads us to salvation from our sins and, “rightly divided” (today’s Scripture), saves us from false teaching—God’s two-fold will for mankind (1 Timothy 2:4).

Sound Bible doctrine for us Gentiles is not what God told Israel, but what He spoke through our apostle, Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). We magnify Jesus Christ today, not by emphasizing His earthly ministry to Israel (Matthew 15:24; Romans 15:8), but by exalting the office He gave Paul. Jesus said, “He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me” (John 13:20). Jesus said if you do not receive Paul whom He sent to you, then you reject Him! We do not emphasize Paul the man, but the Lord Jesus Christ who sent Paul to tell us His grace doctrines (2 Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 3:1-11).

Paul exhorted the Ephesian elders, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up [edify], and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Satan knows Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s inspired Word to us Gentiles, that those grace doctrines align us with God’s present will. Consequently, Satan’s religious system draws us away from Paul’s apostleship and ministry (although Satan’s scriptural religion follows Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, Hebrews through Revelation, the “Old Testament,” anything and everything but the Scriptures that describe what God is currently doing in the Dispensation of Grace!).

Indeed, dispensational Bible study—“right division” (today’s Scripture)—is the key to unlocking the Bible and producing mature saints!

NOTE: At least three increasingly advanced 15-day companion devotional arcs—“Bible Study 103,” “Bible Study 104,” and “Bible Study 105”—are in development, and will be posted in the future. Stay tuned! :)

Bible Study 102 #14

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Throughout Paul’s epistles, we discover “mysteries,” what Scripture calls “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:7), truths that had been “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), but which the risen and ascended Lord Jesus revealed directly to Paul, and finally to us via Romans through Philemon (Romans 16:25,26). Unfortunately, this mystery dispensation, the Dispensation of Grace, is still a mystery to most—today, Satan, not God, hides it. God kept Pauline doctrine secret in order to destroy Satan’s work (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). Now, Satan keeps Paul’s doctrines secret to hinder God’s work—ironically, Christendom cooperates!! Centuries of church tradition and denominationalism still cause many to view Paul as an “extension,” a “supplement,” to Peter and Israel’s other 11 apostles. Paul is not understood as our apostle (Romans 11:13), a unique apostle, but rather an apostle who did and taught exactly what Peter and the 11 did.

The agency associated with Paul’s ministry (the Church that Body of Christ) is not clearly defined (we are thought to be Israel’s “extension” or “replacement”). The Gospel of the Uncircumcision that Paul preached is not distinguished from the Gospel of the Circumcision that Peter preached. Legalistic doctrine such as repentance and water baptism for salvation, tithing, Sabbath day keeping, and confession of sins that Paul spoke against (because it belongs in Israel’s program rather than ours) is still held by many denominations today. Ignorance about spiritual gifts (which Paul corrected) still severely afflicts Christendom. Confusion involving prophecy and us still abounds (even though Paul exhaustively wrote that we are not related to prophecy).

Indeed, the mystery is still a mystery, and what a shame! This mess is to be expected, for the verse after today’s Scripture warned, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16). A “simple” failure to understand the Bible dispensationally has introduced a literal inundation of false teaching. God foresaw Christendom’s current dilemma almost 20 centuries ago, but the solution was (and still is) ignored….

Bible Study 102 #13

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Beginning in Acts chapter 9 with our Apostle Paul’s salvation unto eternal life, but also throughout his ministry, the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ directly revealed Himself to him (Acts 26:12-18; 2 Corinthians 12:1; Galatians 1:11,12; Ephesians 3:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:10,11)—Christ’s heavenly ministry. The Holy Spirit, through our reading and studying of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, reveals those Pauline (grace) doctrines to us, enabling us to understand them (Ephesians 1:17,18; Ephesians 3:4,5).

According to God the Holy Ghost, the test for true spirituality today is Pauline doctrine: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). If someone is speaking on God’s behalf (called a “prophet” in Bible days) and/or if someone is “spiritual” (led by the Holy Spirit), then he or she will magnify the Lord Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Those who emphasize Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John), Hebrews through Revelation, Genesis through Malachi, or even early Acts, as doctrine that we should follow and apply today, the Bible says they are not led by God’s Holy Spirit and they are not speaking on God’s behalf! (Just as Jews who rejected Moses’ writings were not led by God’s Spirit or speaking for God.)

Beloved, any church, any minister, any seminary, or any literature or media that does not instruct you to follow God’s grace doctrines as found in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, the Bible says avoid them” (Romans 16:17,18) and “from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5)—God says avoid 99.9999 percent of so-called “Christianity!!!” Regardless of their sincerity or appeal, God the Holy Spirit insisted through Paul and Peter that we are not to hinder or destroy our spiritual growth with non-dispensational Bible doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:3,4; Colossians 2:4,8; 2 Timothy 2:14-26; 2 Peter 3:15,16). We need not do Satan’s work for him….

Bible Study 102 #11

Sunday, March 16, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Scripture clearly states, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), yet look at the professing Body of Christ. It is just as confused and misinformed about the Bible’s teachings as the people who do not even use the Bible! This Bible confusion is not God’s fault—Christendom has utterly failed to appreciate the dispensational layout of Scripture as God instructed.

One of my Christian friends and ministry co-workers was born and raised in a false religious system. For the first 30-plus years of his earthly life, he was never told the truth, that his religious performance could never merit God’s favor. Once he came to trust Jesus Christ alone as his personal Saviour, he spent the first 40 years of his Christian life never fully understanding his Bible. As a deacon and a Bible teacher in a local Bible church, religious tradition was still robbing him of God’s truth as it had when he was lost! (This is true of many Christians today!)

Years ago, I was privileged to teach him dispensational Bible study. Today, he still reminds me, “All those years I did not understand the Bible, all those passages that puzzled me and yet I had no answers to all those questions! The Bible makes so much sense now!” This dear brother in Christ is no longer “taken captive by [the devil] at his will” (2 Timothy 2:26): God had given him “repentance [change of mind] to the acknowledging of the truth,” and he “recovered [himself] out of the snare of the devil” (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4b). Now, he knows what God is doing (described in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon), he knows and enjoys his Bible like never before, and he can enjoy the eternal life that God gave him over 40 years ago, the life religion never told him about!

Indeed, dispensational Bible study is crucial, for it can salvage the lives of Christians….

Bible Study 102 #8

Thursday, March 13, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

When Scripture says we Christians are “workmen” (today’s Scripture), Ephesians 2:10 (“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them) and 1 Corinthians 3:9 (“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building) explain that God has saved us unto eternal life so we could join Him in accomplishing His will (which we could not do when we were lost, headed for eternal hellfire, participants in Satan’s policy of evil).

Recall that God has a two-fold will: save all people from their sins and Satan, and then save all Christians from all false doctrine (1 Timothy 2:4). Satan has a two-fold will that counters God’s: hide the Gospel of Grace from all people, and hide sound Pauline (grace) doctrine from all Christians. Religious tradition—a non-dispensational approach the Scripture—furthers Satan’s policy of evil, for it keeps lost people lost, and it keeps Christians ignorant of God’s will, His Word to them.

Satan, “the god of this world,” “hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,” by causing lost people to ignore Paul’s Gospel and trust in their own religious performance to gain a right standing before God (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). Moreover, Satan misleads Christians to introduce into their lives everything but God’s grace to them in Christ—the wrong “Jesus” (His earthly ministry in Matthew through John, rather than His heavenly ministry as revealed through Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon), the wrong “spirit” (law rather than grace, Romans 6:14 cf. Romans 8:15), and the wrong “gospel” (Israel’s kingdom gospel rather the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3,4) (2 Corinthians 11:3,4).

We Christians are “workmen” when we “study… rightly dividing the word of truth,” and our faith in those verses causes the Holy Spirit to bring them to life in our lives, thus aligning us with God’s will for us….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

Bible Study 102 #3

Saturday, March 8, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Many professing Christians spend their whole earthly lives struggling to discern God’s will. They observe their circumstances and attempt to “read between the lines and discern road signs,” they listen for instruction from “still, small voices” in their heads, they ask preachers and teachers (who rarely understand God’s will themselves), they purchase “Christian” literature and “easy-to-read” modern “bible” versions, they attend retreats and Bible conferences, they pray, and it is truly unfortunate that, despite all the effort, they often leave this life without ever getting a solid grasp of God’s Word to them. Most tragically, many not only die without understanding the Bible, but they even die in their trespasses and sins, having never realized they could have had those sins forgiven in and through Jesus Christ!

God’s will for each and every person is clearly delineated in 1 Timothy 2:4: “[God our Saviour; verse 3] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” There are two specific phrases to note: “Who will have all men to be saved” and “Who will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (Remember, “men” is a generic term that includes all people—man, woman, boy, and girl.)

Firstly, God wants all people to be saved from their sins and eternal hellfire. The Apostle Peter elaborated on the Apostle Paul’s words: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Secondly, God wants all Christians to be saved from false teaching. “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Let us now briefly examine the first aspect of God’s two-fold plan for man….

Bible Study 102 #2

Friday, March 7, 2014

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

The only verse that tells you to study the Bible also tells you how to understand the Bible!

Understandably, people get confused when reading the Bible. The primary reasons are: (1) they do not have God’s indwelling Holy Spirit teaching them, (2) they are using a counterfeit Bible version translated from faulty manuscripts predicated upon unsound [critical] textual theories, all of which are further polluted by additional fallible human viewpoint, and (3) neither they nor their Bible translators nor their pastors and teachers have any appreciation for the dispensational nature of God’s Word (“rightly dividing the word of truth;” today’s Scripture).

Textual critics, “experts” (?) who study and evaluate ancient Bible manuscripts, are usually unsaved, spiritually un-regenerated. Rather than allowing God’s Word say what He means and mean what He says to whom and when He says it, they dare not submit to a mere Book that contradicts their human “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:4-16; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20). Having nothing more than the “spirit of man,” they irreverently assume the role of the “Spirit of God.” Attempting to smooth over Bible “contradictions,” they “correct” the Bible text by retranslating so it makes sense in their sinful minds, thereby discarding God’s wisdom (Isaiah 55:8,9).

For the last 2,000 years, Christendom’s leadership has done a great disservice to us all. Even today, pastors and teachers who are filled with and led by the Holy Spirit (although men often lacking a degree from “seminary”—Bible cemetery) are seen as “know-nothings” when it comes to Bible study. Today, oddly enough, anyone who is skilled in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin is considered a Bible “expert,” whether or not they believe the Bible! (Applying that same line of thought, should we therefore seek Greek-literate, Hebrew-literate, and Latin-literate atheists and agnostics to tell us what the Bible really says?!)

Having God the Holy Ghost is necessary to understand the Bible, for He is the Author of Scripture. Before one can be a dispensational Bible student approved unto God, he or she must first be a Gospel believer….