Onesimus and Deuteronomy

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels:…. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? (Philemon 10-12,15,16 KJV).

What did the Mosaic Law demand?

Moses declared to Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 23: “[15] Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: [16] He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” The Mosaic Law could not be clearer: under no circumstances was the escaped servant to be returned to his master. Yet, as today’s Scripture bears out, the Apostle Paul sent runaway slave Onesimus back to owner Philemon. Why did Paul not follow Moses?

Due to an undisclosed wrongdoing, Onesimus ran away from Philemon’s house in Colosse. While Paul was imprisoned at Rome hundreds of miles away, Onesimus showed up there and Paul shared the Gospel of Grace with him. Onesimus trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and thus joined the family of God. Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon, Onesimus carrying a special message—the Bible Book we now know as “Paul’s Epistle to Philemon.” In that little Book, the Apostle explained to Philemon the spiritual transformation of Onesimus.

As a former Pharisee and Jewish Law scholar (Acts 22:3; Philippians 3:5), Paul was very much aware of what Moses commanded. Still, the Law was not in operation. The Church the Body of Christ was under a whole new dispensation (set of divine rules). Grace would enable Philemon, no matter how badly he had been cheated, to accept Onesimus as an eternal “brother beloved” in Christ. By sending Onesimus back to Philemon, Paul afforded them both an opportunity to experience just how amazing (and unifying) God’s grace is! 🙂

An Eternal House in the Heavens #10

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

God already sees it! By faith, do you?

In the prophetic program (past or future), God forms a bloodline of a literal, physical, visible, earthly people—the nation Israel. Accordingly, He demands they perform literal, physical, visible, earthly works—physical circumcision, water baptism, tithing, Sabbath-Day observance, confession of sins, and so on. Moreover, He promises them literal, physical, visible, earthly demonstrations of His power—healed bodies, bountiful harvests, military victories, et cetera (signs, miracles, and wonders).

However, in the mystery program, our present-day, God is forming a spiritual, invisible, heavenly people—although just as real as Israel. The Bible calls it “the Church the Body of Christ,” people “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). In our Dispensation of Grace, Father God is not forming a literal, physical, visible group of believers. Therefore, we are not looking for literal, physical, visible, earthly works of God. We are to be looking, with the eyes of faith, at the invisible, spiritual works of God (2 Corinthians 4:18; today’s Scripture). One of these invisible, spiritual blessings is a glorified body, “eternal in the heavens.”

Ironically, “faith healers” are actually emboldening doubt rather than faith. They would have us walk by sight when Scripture instructs us to walk by faith. We do not have to see God visibly working to know He is with us. Rather, we know He is with us because His Word says His Holy Spirit is working in us to produce Christ’s life: “That [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17).

Saints, divine physical healing for our dispensation will occur at the Rapture. God is not interested in temporarily restoring these aging, weakening bodies. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the air to take us away to Heaven, we the Body of Christ will receive glorified bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected, glorious body (Philippians 3:20,21). Until then, we say “Amen!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the people in 2 Corinthians 11:22—the 12 Apostles, or others?

An Eternal House in the Heavens #9

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Christians worldwide live in physical bodies that are falling apart—cataracts, malnutrition/starvation, arthritis, hearing impairments, amputations, brain damage, heart disease, forgetfulness, cancer, thinning bones, high blood pressure, speech difficulties, limited mobility, and so on. While we should take care of our bodies as best as we can by taking advantage of medical science, exercise, and nourishing diets, the fact is that these bodies are not going to last forever anyway. All “healing” claims aside, lost and saved alike are buried in the same crust of Earth! To concentrate so much on maintaining these temporal bodies is a most serious error in the modern world. (People without hope in the next life are definitely trying to make the absolute most of this one!)

Short of the Lord’s coming, Christian brethren, these “outward men” of ours will succumb to the ultimate weakness—mortality—and thus they will “sleep” in the dust of the Earth. Paul, led by the Holy Spirit to write today’s Scripture, knew that as he penned it. As the outward man was growing weaker (and closer to death), the inward man was growing stronger in God’s grace: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Steady, daily intake of God’s Word rightly divided would continually “renew” that inner man!

Our Apostle was more focused on what would be the condition of our inward men at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9,10). The physical body would return to the ground, to be resurrected a spiritual body—a literal body just as real, just more advanced (no longer subject to death, and not limited by time or space). What would last forever is: (1) our soul currently living within our physical body, and (2) the resurrected body, “eternal in the heavens,” in which our souls will reside forever. Remain focused on these two eternal things!

Now, we conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How long was Christ’s earthly ministry?

An Eternal House in the Heavens #8

Monday, March 27, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

While we are here in these physical bodies, we know absolutely that we are not in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord” (verse 6). Once we leave these physical bodies, however, we know with certainty that we will be in the Lord’s presence in Heaven: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (verse 8). Sandwiched between these two verses is the parenthetical phrase, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight: )” (verse 7). Remember, we, by faith, look at the invisible, eternal things rather than the visible, temporary ones (2 Corinthians 4:18)!

Once we meet the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive our glorified, resurrection bodies at the event we call the “Rapture” (1 Corinthians 15:49-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), then we will go before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Second Corinthians chapter 5 continues: “[9] Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Not to be confused with the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, which is for the lost people of the ages, the Judgment Seat of Christ is reserved only for Christians, members of the Body of Christ. Our Christian service will be evaluated: Jesus Christ will determine the spirituality, or maturity, of our inner man. The quality of the sound Bible doctrine—that is, dispensational Bible study—we store in our inner man will result in a reward. Notice, “the things done in his body…” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The reward is the capacity in which we will serve our Lord and Saviour as we function in those new outward bodies….

An Eternal House in the Heavens #7

Sunday, March 26, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

God still has work to do concerning our outward man, and we still have work to do concerning our inward man. While He has yet to redeem our physical bodies, which are falling apart, we should focus on our inward man, which should be growing. Second Corinthians chapter 4 once again: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” How is the “inward man” “renewed day by day?”

Romans 12:1-2 tells us: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Ephesians 4:20-23 says: “[20] But ye have not so learned Christ; [21] If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; [24] And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

The key to Christian living is letting Jesus Christ teach you how He wants to live His life in and through you. It is not something you struggle to do, but something you daily learn from His Word rightly divided. Faith causes the Holy Spirit to take that Word and change your thinking processes, and that will change your conduct to fit God’s grace. Colossians 3:10 adds: “And [ye] have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him….” We are building up the inner man, preparing for the day when God relocates it to the new outward man….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are the prophets of Romans 16:26?

An Eternal House in the Heavens #6

Saturday, March 25, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Today’s Scripture opens with great certainty: “For we know….” Verse 6 says, “Therefore we are always confident….” There was great assurance in Paul’s mind touching the resurrection of us Christians. He knew that his physical body would “perish,” be “dissolved” (disintegrated). Thus, he was not overly concerned about its weaknesses and limitations. He would leave behind that “outward man” of flesh and blood: that “body of sin” would be destroyed (Romans 6:6). Paul concentrated on his soul, or “inward man” (2 Corinthians 4:16). The soul was the “real” him, something he could never leave. He would take that into eternity, and God would implant that soul into the body “eternal in the heavens.”

Father God has prepared or appointed us to the resurrection, as chapter 5 continues: “[5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Our confidence is found in the indwelling Holy Spirit (verse 5), the “earnest” or “down payment.” As people who have trusted the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)—we have been “redeemed” soul and spirit (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). However, our outward bodies are unredeemed. Romans chapter 8 says: “[22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Indeed, we wait for “the adoption,” “the redemption of our body….”

An Eternal House in the Heavens #5

Friday, March 24, 2017

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1 KJV).

You may not see it, but God already does!

Today’s Scripture loops back to the close of chapter 4 (paraphrased): “looking not at the temporal things that are seen, but at the eternal things that are not seen.” Those invisible, eternal things are described in today’s Scripture onward.

Read today’s Scripture with its subsequent context: “[1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”

Our physical bodies are called “this tabernacle” (verses 1 and 4)—a hut or temporary shelter. The Apostle Peter used that term to describe his mortal body in 2 Peter 1:13,14. Job 14:22 says of man: “But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.” Scripture provides a very interesting illustration here. The “soul” (“inward man;” 2 Corinthians 4:16)—the “real” person—is clothed by a body of “flesh” (“outward man;” 2 Corinthians 4:16). The flesh is without; the soul is within. Our physical bodies are temporary, to one day be shed, just as we remove our physical clothing. Our eternal souls, “unclothed,” will then be “clothed upon” by eternal bodies.

Second Corinthians chapter 5 switches from “our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved” (physical body, only temporary) to “we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (new glorified body, lasting forever). Earth is not our permanent home—Heaven is! God’s purpose and plan is not to improve these earthly bodies that will die anyway. He has promised us a body fit for the heavenly places….