Known of God #5

Thursday, May 26, 2016

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8,9 KJV).

Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

Today, it is very difficult to find someone who has never heard of “Jesus.” Contrariwise, when the Apostle Paul began his ministry, it was very difficult to find someone who had heard of “Jesus.” When JEHOVAH God’s apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, entered Athens, Galatia, Thessalonica, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Antioch, Berea, Ephesus, and innumerable other Gentile areas, it was His first attempt ever to directly reach those Gentiles. The nations that He had given over to Satan’s control back in Genesis chapter 11, He was now reaching down so they could reach Him.

In Acts chapter 14, Paul and Barnabas preached to the idolaters at Lystra: “[15] …[T]urn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: [16] Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Paul preached in Athens (chapter 17): “[23] For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. [24] God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; [25] Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;… [29] Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. [30] And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”

Paul preached a similar message to the idolaters in Galatia (today’s Scripture). It was via his Gospel message they could know God and He could know them!

Known of God #4

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8,9 KJV).

Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

While Israel had a special status before God in “time past” (Romans 9:4,5; Ephesians 2:11,12), she was unappreciative. She forgot that God had not chosen her as His special people because she was so lovely and loving, but rather because He, in His love, wanted to use her to reach all the nations on His behalf (Genesis 12:1-3). During Christ’s earthly ministry and early Acts, Israel demonstrated she was unwilling to be God’s channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles.

So, God turned to Gentiles without Israel. Israel fell before God—albeit temporarily. This is where the Apostle Paul enters. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:”

If you read the latter part of the book of Acts—chapter 13 onward—you will cover the bulk of Paul’s ministry. While he did visit synagogues (Jewish places of worship) to warn Israelites of their nation’s temporary fall before God, he also ministered to people who were completely unaware of Israel’s God. None of these people had ever heard the name “Jesus Christ.” Rather, they had their idols of superstition, pagan education, Satanism, wood and stone, et cetera (see Acts 14:1-18, Acts 16:16-18, Acts 17:16-31, Acts 19:21-41, and Acts 28:1-8). This was where Paul found the Galatians (see today’s Scripture). He preached to them the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. They came to know the one true God!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Israel ‘cast away,’ or not? Has Israel ‘fallen,’ or not?

Known of God #3

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8,9 KJV).

Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

Ephesians 2:11-13 lays out the Bible timeline: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

In time past,” God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). He had separated unto Himself the nation Israel from the world (see Romans 9:4,5). Ephesians 2:11-12 says, during that time—Gentiles were “without Christ” (Christ’s earthly ministry was to Israel only; Matthew 15:24), Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” (not members of Israel), Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise” (God made covenants with Israel), Gentiles “ha[d] no hope” (no promises from God), and Gentiles were “without God” (no Levitical priesthood of God). This correlates to the first part of today’s Scripture: [W]hen ye [Gentiles] knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”

Verse 13 of Ephesians chapter 2 says, “BUT…,” a contrast to our previous statements: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off [Gentiles] are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” This links to the next part of today’s Scripture: But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God,….” In what Scripture calls but now,” our present-day, God deals with all of mankind without distinguishing between Jew and Gentile.

We proceed to show how this new way of God dealing with mankind began with the Apostle Paul’s salvation and commission….

Known of God #2

Monday, May 23, 2016

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8,9 KJV).

Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

Departing Moses admonishes Israel to remember she alone is God’s special people. Deuteronomy chapter 4: “[5] Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. [6] Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. [7] For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? [8] And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?”

Once Israel entered the Promised Land, Gentiles were to literally see their unique Law-keeping behavior and respond: “Our dead idols do nothing for us, but, LOOK!, an all-powerful, wise, loving God works mightily in Israel! Let us turn to that God and forget our superstitions and statues!”

Romans chapter 9 describes Israel’s privileges in “time past:” “[4] Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; [5] Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Israel was to be God’s “son-nation,” His earthly coworker-nation. They had His presence, His covenants, His Law (Word), His priesthood, His promises, and His earthly ministry (Matthew through John). Of the Gentiles like us during that time, today’s Scripture says,[Y]e knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.”

Thank God, we have moved from “time past” to “but now!”

Known of God #1

Sunday, May 22, 2016

“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:8,9 KJV).

Not only do we in Christ know God. More importantly, God knows us!

Today’s Scripture carries the thought mentioned throughout the previous chapter. While the one true God was dealing with the nation of Israel, preparing them to function as His earthly people, the nations—including the Gentiles in Galatia—“knew not God” and “did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” That is, in their heathen religious services, they worshipped various dead idols.

The Gentiles were doubly-severed from the one true God. They were not only dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). They were also on the wrong side of the middle wall of partition that God had erected (Ephesians 2:11,12). The Israelites, not the Gentiles, were God’s chosen people. Having let the nations (Gentiles) go their way in spiritual ignorance at the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11, God took Abraham and began to form His special nation in chapter 12. Romans chapter 1 shows us the nations’ blatant rejection of God’s clearly revealed will, and their subsequent spiritual ignorance. This was the former state of the Galatians in today’s Scripture. It was also the lot of our Gentile ancestors in the centuries before Christ!

Did God not care about the Gentiles? Why, of course He did! God’s will was to take the nation Israel, convert them, fill them with His Word, so they, as His kingdom of priests, could then take that divine revelation to the nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-3; Isaiah 60:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Zechariah 8:20-23). Israel, as we all know, failed in that regard. But, God, in eternity past, devised another way to reach Gentiles until Israel’s national conversion. Today’s Scripture provides a clue as to how He did it. We Gentile believers in Jesus Christ “have known God” and “are known of God.” Just what exactly does this mean? Let us search the Scriptures to find out!

Malnourished Saints

Saturday, May 21, 2016

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” (Hebrews 5:12 KJV).

Regrettably, today’s Scripture could be written to today’s average “Christian.”

It is rather sad to see someone in an adult body with a child’s mentality. Normally, this person should behave and make decisions like a mature person. However, due to various reasons, he or she cannot function like an adult. It is no exaggeration to claim that 90 to 95 percent of Christians (whether professing or legitimate) fit this category in the spiritual realm. They have such a shallow—or even no (!)—understanding of the Holy Bible.

In my short decade of ministry, speaking to and hearing from various people, I have grown more and more aware of the fact that many of the people who read the Bible have an extremely limited understanding of it. Even people who trusted Jesus Christ decades ago, who should have matured in God’s Word years back, know little Bible teaching.

Years ago, I sat with a Christian on his deathbed. He was so burdened about his lost friends. He told me that he did not know what to tell them about soul salvation. Another elderly Christian brother sought my help in understanding the Scriptures (and he had been studying the Bible two decades before me!). Or the Christian couple who went to an “evangelical” church for a decade and, in their words, “learned nothing.” What about the woman who learned more about the Bible in a few hours using dispensational Bible study, than what she learned 90 years in her denominational church?!

I have met all sorts of people who claim to read the Bible, and yet their beliefs match anything and everything but. The list goes on and on and on. I have seen it firsthand, and have spoken with others who have heard similar stories. Bible ignorance is the greatest within “Bible” circles. May we get into the meat of the Bible—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—and throw away our baby bottle!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why do people grow angry when we share right division with them?

Paul’s Three-Fold Announcement

Friday, May 20, 2016

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46 KJV).

Israel has been warned—there are two more admonitions to come!

Anyone who has seriously studied the book of Acts is familiar with the three-fold announcement the Apostle Paul made to the nation Israel. Today’s Scripture was the first. Acts 18:6 is the second: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” Acts 28:28 is the last: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

While there are some very asinine teachings associated with this three-fold announcement, we push such denominational biases aside to look at the verses themselves. Consult a good Bible atlas (there may be one in the back on your Bible) and notice where Acts 13:46, Acts 18:6, and Acts 28:28 were spoken. The first was uttered in Antioch of Pisidia, Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The second was spoken in Corinth, Achaia (modern-day southern Greece). The last was uttered in Rome, Italy (the world’s capital at that time). In other words, Paul traveled westward making this proclamation. We in the Western world should be thankful. The Gospel of Grace, instead of spreading eastward (the Far East), came our way first!

Although it is common to view the book of Acts as “the record of the birth of the Church” (a faulty phrase found commonly in “Christian” thinking), a more appropriate summary is “God’s justice exhibited in setting Israel aside.” The more Paul preached from Acts chapter 9 through chapter 28, the more unbelieving Jews followed him, argued with him, and even physically abused him. By the end of Acts, the transitional period was over. Israel had “diminished” (Romans 11:12); the Holy Spirit through Paul would warn her no more. He had already gone to the Gentiles, and, unlike national Israel, how the Gentiles so joyfully received Him!