John the Baptist

Household Rules #15

Thursday, January 19, 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]?”

With the Lord Jesus Christ directly revealing to Paul the Dispensation of Grace of God, we have a completed Bible. Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Apostle Peter preached in Acts 3:21 about that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul had a ministry concerned about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26). These are two totally different dispensations, never to be confused unless we want to be confused. God kept a secret, but He revealed it directly and exclusively to Paul. Without Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we lose the “household rules” God withheld from other Bible writers and holy men of old.

We see Paul as God’s spokesman to us—not Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter, Moses, John the Baptist, and so on. We realize Jesus Christ exalted in Heaven (Paul’s ministry), not just on Earth (rest of Scripture). We know we are under Grace (Paul’s ministry), not under Law (rest of Scripture). We see the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins—as our way to a right standing before God (Paul’s ministry), not other Gospel messages (rest of Scripture). We recognize our completeness in Christ (Paul’s ministry), not needing rites and rituals and ceremonies to make God happy with us (rest of Scripture). We see ourselves as the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry), not the nation Israel (rest of Scripture). We recognize the difference between mystery (Paul’s ministry) and prophecy (rest of Scripture).

If we are to know God’s will for us today, we had better pay attention to His current “household rules”—Paul’s ministry and writings! 🙂

-FINIS-

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?’

His Son #3

Friday, October 21, 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 a fragmentary fashion and in assorted ways, JEHOVAH God used the prophets to speak to Israel’s patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s 12 sons, David, Solomon, et cetera—about His purpose and plan for them. The Book of Hebrews is written to the descendants of Israel’s fathers. It has no relation to us Gentiles or the Church the Body of Christ. Never forget, friends, the Book of Hebrews continues the prophetic program that began in the “Old Testament.” We study Hebrews, but are always mindful it does not speak to or about us.

According to the writer of Hebrews, penning during the Acts period, the God who spoke to Israel’s fathers by the “Old Testament” prophets is not speaking by them anymore. He has spoken to Israel by His Son. As Jesus Himself declared, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). John the Baptist’s ministry was a transition, or “bridge,” from the Law and the Prophets, to the earthly ministry of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God’s earthly kingdom, long preached by the “Old Testament” prophets as coming, is on the verge of being established during Christ’s earthly ministry. (Hebrews, written during Acts, looks back at Matthew through John.)

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [near]: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15). That Gospel of the Kingdom was simply Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)….

Unity in Variety

Thursday, October 13, 2016

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire (Matthew 3:11 KJV).

Let us consult Mark, Luke, and John.

Friend, the Bible is truly a remarkable Book—yea, rather, the world’s greatest Book! If you carefully read its words, looking for related phrases and words elsewhere, you begin to assemble a giant puzzle. What was mysterious is now somewhat understandable. While absolute clarity is impossible in this life—for our flesh limits us—we can appreciate a wide range of contexts and concepts by simply comparing Bible verses. Unfortunately, most have resorted to comparing verses with commentaries and dictionaries. Eventually, the commentaries and dictionaries become believable and the verses become doubtful.

It comes as no surprise that Bible detractors usually dismiss the writers of Scripture as “collaborators.” They say that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were from one written source. However, that argument does not hold up. While we can study and compare those Four Gospel Records, and see how they do oftentimes agree, in several places, these four books starkly depart from each other. John especially stands almost entirely alone. All the more reason to believe them as true! Why?

Consider today’s Scripture (Matthew): “[W]hose shoes I am not worthy to bear….” Mark’s version (1:7) says: “And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” Finally, Luke’s version (3:16): “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose….” (John does not record this at all in his book!)

Notice how they do not read word-for-word. They are not supposed to read verbatim, either—that would certainly merit suspicion of collaboration! These accounts read differently… but, friend, fret not! They are four different men looking at the same John the Baptist (although, actually, the same Lord Jesus Christ) from four different perspectives. And, yet, the same Holy Spirit leading them all! Such unity in variety!

He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease #5

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 KJV).

Beloved, may today’s Scripture be the cry of each and every Christian!

Sadly, so many Christians are miserable, defeated, and confused today. What happened to them? Despite having a Bible for so long, they still have not realized the truth in today’s Scripture. Christianity is NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT, NOT us striving to keep commandments and church ordinances so God can be happy with us. Jesus Christ has been pushed aside. Religious tradition has done an unparalleled job in making pure Christianity into a worthless system of dry theological verbiage and worthless dead works!

When we study how Jesus Christ lived His life on planet Earth, we can see exactly what God’s life looks like in human flesh. True Christian living is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER us serving, pleasing, or exalting self. What did Jesus say? “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him [the Father] that sent me” (John 6:38). Sinful living is just the opposite—me, me, me, me! Remember, sin is defined in Scripture as: “We have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Doing whatever you want and gratifying yourself, focusing on yourself and your works (whether in religion or “in the world”). This “self-focus” caused Satan’s downfall. It caused man’s downfall in Genesis chapter 3.

Once, sin reigned as a king in our lives. Friends, that time is no more. Now that we have come to Jesus Christ—having trusted solely in His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins—sin has no more dominion over us. Our striving and struggling must end, that grace may reign, and Father God is glorified. Jesus Christ’s work is enough! “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21). Do we really believe that?

Dear friends, if we are led by God’s Holy Spirit, we will not be self-willed, adamant that our desires be fulfilled so we can praise ourselves. Rather, we will join John the Baptist and shout from our hearts: “He must increase, but I must decrease!” 🙂