early Acts period

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Household Rules #12

Monday, January 16, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

To repeat, some people hate dispensational Bible study. Modern English Bible “scholars” eliminate “dispensation,” therefore hiding the system’s biblical foundation. If they omit the term from Scripture, then they quite easily argue dispensationalism is false. However, while refusing to admit it, even they understand some dispensational boundaries. They know a dispensational boundary exists between an animal-sacrificing Old Testament Jew and us today. They understand animal sacrifices were God’s directions to Israel under the Law, not directions to us under Grace. They know God’s directions to Noah to build an Ark are Scripture, but not to us. Yet, they claim and follow other verses not to or about us. How silly!

Certain “church people” loathe dispensational Bible study—especially Pauline dispensationalism—because it prevents them from ripping out of context verses from Jesus’ earthly ministry and early Acts. They enjoy claiming the gifts of healing and tongues; they like the Beatitudes, Sermon on the Mount, and so-called “Lord’s Prayer;” they harp on Christ’s parables; they revel in water baptism, Sabbath-day keeping, and confession of sins. If they were to recognize dispensationalism as true, and apply it consistently in Scripture, then they would see only Paul’s doctrine as applicable to us (today’s Scripture; cf. Ephesians 3:2).

They dislike Paul since he was not sent to water baptize (1 Corinthians 1:17); did not have the gifts of healing and tongues his entire ministry (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20); did not quote the “Lord’s Prayer,” Sermon on the Mount, or Beatitudes; did not emphasize confession of sins; directly opposed forced giving/tithing (2 Corinthians 9:6,7); and outright condemned Sabbath-day keeping (Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16). Paul emphasized grace rather than works. Thus, some groups have removed Paul’s “nuisance” epistles entirely from their Bible!

Dispensational Bible study—specifically, Pauline dispensationalism—threatens church traditions (works-religion). They must ignore dispensational boundaries in order to keep people working and striving in church programs and denominations. In doing so, they underscore Law, thus refuting the Gospel of Grace and hindering victorious Christian living….

His Son #10

Friday, October 28, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

The Holy Spirit led the writer of the Book of Hebrews to state God’s Son “uphold[s] all things by the word of his power.” Jesus Christ’s words are infinitely powerful, mighty words never to be taken lightly. In fact, our massive (!) universe is held together—yea, came into existence from nothing—because Jesus Christ spoke the words, “Let there be…!” Consequently, Father God admonishes Israel to listen to His Son speaking. That Son will be crowned King of Heaven and Earth one day. Anyone not submitting to His authority will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire! (Friends, those who reject Jesus Christ today will go to that same place of everlasting torment!)

Although sons and daughters of Adam, the Jews could be cleansed of their sins, and thus be qualified to participate in the glorification of God’s Son in the Earth. Jesus Christ came and “by himself”—omitted from the modern versions!—“purged [Israel’s] sins.” His rich, royal, sinless blood was shed for them, that He might “wash” them from their sins (Revelation 1:5). In the early Acts period, Jews were to come by faith in Jesus as God’s Son, having repented of their wayward thinking (idolatry), and then being water baptized in Jesus Christ’s name to serve as His kingdom of priests (Acts 2:38). All that the Prophets have foretold will be fulfilled one day, with believing Jews becoming “sons of God” because they listened to and believed the words of God’s Son (John 1:11,12)!

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Do Matthew 10:10, Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3 contradict?

His Son #9

Thursday, October 27, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

Scripture says of God’s Son, Who being the brightness of his [Father’s] glory….” This “brightness” is radiance, a brilliant light shining forth. Psalm 104:1-2 says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain….” This light—which actually is a rainbow (Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3)—is God’s righteousness on display. First Timothy 6:16 describes Jesus Christ (verse 15) as: “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto….” The Lord Jesus is literally the perfect reflection of Father God concerning His radiant righteousness and glory.

In today’s Scripture, we also read of God’s Son as being, “…the express image of his [Father’s] person….” The Greek term rendered “express image” is actually “charakter” (from which we get our English word “character”). Jesus Christ resembles God the Father in every way—His faithfulness, truth, wisdom, love, mercy, grace, peace, power, kindness, and so on. There is nothing dark or mysterious about Father God if we look at His Son, for His son is a clear representation, or explicit portrait, of His Father.

Jesus Christ, “the only begotten Son,” declares the invisible Father unto the nation Israel (John 1:18). Our Lord Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). If Israel knows Jesus Christ, they know the Father, and have fellowship with both (1 John 2:22,23). Any Jew who rejects Jesus will never know anything about the Father God whom He epitomizes. He will remain in the spiritual darkness he prefers (John 3:18-20).

Now we conclude this devotionals arc….

His Son #8

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7-12) and Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:30,38-42) warned Israel of “the [fiery] wrath to come.” Peter also announced that impending judgment (Acts 2:34-36; Acts 4:19-26): “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 4:23). Jews who declined to hear God speaking by His Son (cf. today’s Scripture) would be “destroyed”—or, as Jesus said, “ground to powder” (Matthew 21:44). “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 4:26). Peter encouraged Israel to receive God’s Son!

Today’s Scripture says, “[His Son] whom he [Father God] hath appointed heir of all things….” Father God has determined to grant Jesus Christ power to rule everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 11:15). Father wants His Son to have preeminence in “all things,” all governmental offices of Heaven and Earth (Colossians 1:16-20; Ephesians 1:9-11; Philippians 2:9-11). Israel, by faith, can participate in His earthly government.

“By whom [the Son] also he [the Father] made the worlds…” refers to the governmental systems and their various ages of duration. For example, Scripture describes Christ’s future reign as “world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). Ephesians 2:6-7 speaks of these “ages to come.” Jesus Christ is the Creator God (Ephesians 3:9) mentioned in Genesis 1:1, and all things are to glorify Him to Father’s praise: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Today’s Scripture urges Israel to realize these precious truths concerning God’s Son….

His Son #7

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

In Acts chapter 2, the Apostle Peter, God’s spokesman to Israel, offered her a renewed opportunity of repentance. Indeed, unbelieving Jews had refused John’s water baptism. Yes, they had also rejected their Messiah and crucified Him on Calvary weeks earlier. Nevertheless, Father God honored Jesus’ plea (Luke 23:34) and had forgiven them.

Now, God’s Spirit had been poured out on Israel’s believing remnant, signifying that resurrected Jesus was glorified in Heaven (cf. the “right hand…” of today’s Scripture). “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:32,33).

However, Peter warned, Jesus would not sit forever: “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (verse 34-36). Christ would rise and return to judge His enemies—unbelieving Israel!

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37,38). (John the Baptist’s message expanded.)

Jesus would return with Israel’s kingdom and eliminate those who denied Him as God’s Son….

His Son #6

Monday, October 24, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

John the Baptist warned Israel about “the wrath to come” (Matthew 3:7). He said Messiah would come shortly after him and “Shall baptize… with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (verses 11,12). Whoever refused John’s water baptism—“the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4)—would not receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2). Without having John’s water baptism and the subsequent Spirit baptism, a Jew would be baptized with fire (judgment at the Second Coming).

In His Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, Matthew chapter 13, Jesus forewarned about God’s fiery wrath consuming unbelievers in Israel (verses 30,40-42). A Jew who did not identify himself with Messiah by participating in John’s water baptism, that Jew was a child of Satan and would surely be punished in God’s everlasting wrath. The Gospel of the Kingdom—“Jesus is Messiah-King, God’s Son”—that Jesus preached in the Four Gospels was the message Father God wanted Israel to believe. There would be a harsh penalty for rejecting God’s Son in His earthly ministry (Hebrews 2:1-3—“how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord [Matthew through John]…”).

With the outpouring of the Spirit of God, Peter warned Israel in early Acts, chapter 2 particularly, that Jesus would now return as King and Judge. Israel had better come to Him by faith and prepare for His return to establish His literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What did Jesus mean, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice?’