A FEW FACTS ON THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

the-millennium

1 PREMILLENNIALISM IN THE EARLY CHURCH

Most of the earliest Church Fathers believed in a literal kingdom on earth which would follow the return of Christ. Philip Schaff, an amillennialist historian admitted:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the Ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origin, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it…. It distinguishes, moreover, two resurrections, one before and another after the Millennium, and makes the millennial reign of Christ only a prelude to his eternal reign in heaven, from which it is separated by a short interregnum of Satan.” – Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church 2.XII.158.

2 WHY A MILLENNIAL KINGDOM?

Old Testament and New Testament promises require it.

Scripture contains many prophetic passages which include promises which require an earthly kingdom for their fulfillment (e.g., Mat. 19:28). Without a future earthly kingdom, huge portions of the Old estament must be spiritualized into meaningless generalities.

Biblical covenants require it.

Four unconditional covenants were made with Israel: the Abrahamic, Land, Davidic, and New covenants. Elements of each of these covenants remain unfulfilled and require a future earthly kingdom to bring them to pass. For example, Israel must occupy the Promised Land in peace, never to be removed again (Amos 9:1415).

Passages which don’t fit now or the eternal state.

The Old Testament contains numerous passages which cannot find fulfillment in the present state nor the eternal state. They describe a time of great blessing which is far beyond our current experience, but which includes birth, sin, death (Isa. 65:20), and the sea none of which are found in the eternal state (Rev. 21:1, 4).

To demonstrate righteous rule in the original creation.

With Jesus ruling from the throne of David on earth, the world will see what life should have been in the original created order which was “very good.”

3 MILLENNIAL PASSAGES

Identifying Millennial Passages

In many cases, Millennial passages can be readily identified because they describe an incredible time of blessing and promise, but they contain elements which are abolished in the eternal state. Watch carefully for passages which sound like “heaven on earth,” but which include mention of sin, death, rebellion, judgment, a Temple, or the sea. None of these occurs in the eternal state and provide indicators that a millennial passage may be in view. Also look for the transition between the Tribulation (or Day of the Lord) with great judgment and bloodshed, followed by promises of restoration.

Key Millennial Passages

Although there are many millennial passages, some of the most prominent include: Ps. 72:1-20; Isa. 2:2-5; Isa. 11:1-10; Isa. 66:19-24; Eze. 37:21-28; Eze. 47:1-12; Zep. 3:8-12; Mic. 4:1-13; Zec. 14:8-11, 16-21; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:6-7; Rev. 20:46.

4 BIRTH AND DEATH IN THE MILLENNIUM

Raptured and Resurrected Saints

Raptured and resurrected saints participate in the Millennial Kingdom, but they do not contribute to the growth in population because they have glorified bodies (Mark 12:25).

Living Saints Survive the Tribulation

Isaiah indicates children will be born and people will die at a great age (Isa. 65:20). Who bears these children? They are from the faithful who remain alive on earth at the Second Coming. This includes the believing Jewish remnant, many who were kept safe (Rev. 12:6) and other Jews and Gentiles which managed to survive. They enter the kingdom from the “sheep and goat judgment” (Mat. 25:3134).

No Post-tribulation Rapture

This precludes a posttribulational rapture. If all the believers are taken in the Rapture at Christ’s return and then immediately return to earth, there are no believers left in their natural bodies to form the initial birthing population of the Millennial Kingdom.

5 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM

Duration

One thousand years. (Rev. 20:25)

Theocratic Rule

God will rule in the person of Jesus Christ on the throne of David. King David reigns as a prince under Christ. (2Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:20-37; Isa. 24:23; Jer. 30:9; 33:15-17; Eze. 34:23-24; 37:24-25; 45:22; Dan. 7:13-14; Hos. 3:5; Luke 1:30-33)

Representative Rule

The twelve apostles will represent Christ ruling over the twelve tribes. Church age and Tribulation saints will represent Christ ruling over the Gentiles. (Isa. 32:1; Dan. 7:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:30; Rev. 3:21; 5:10)

Universal Rule

Christ’s rule will extend both spiritually and literally over the entire earth. (Ps. 2:69; 72:8; Dan. 2:44; 4:34; 7:14, 27; Mic. 4:12; Zec. 9:10)

Seat of Government

The earthly Jerusalem will be restored, blessed, and greatly expanded to serve as the seat of government and worship. (Isa. 62; Isa. 65:18-19; Eze 48:15-19; Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2)

Global Environment

The heavens and earth will be renewed to restore the environment to Eden-like conditions and repair the damage from man’s long reign of abuse and the judgments of the Tribulation period. (Isa. 65:17; Mat. 19:28)

Populace

Resurrected and glorified saints will rule in the midst of Christ’s “brothers” (the faithful Jewish remnant), and the “sheep” (faithful Gentiles) who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom to form its initial population. Children will be born to those who enter the kingdom in their natural bodies. (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 26:19; 65:20, 23; Mat. 25:31; Rev. 20:4)

The Curse

Many aspects of the curse (Gen. 3:1519) will be reversed. People will live to a great age, but death will still occur. As before the flood, animals will revert to vegetarianism and will no longer fear man. Living waters will flow from beneath the Sanctuary of the Temple bringing life to the regions they water. (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:20, 25; Eze. 47:8-12; Zec. 8:4; 14:8 (cf. Rev. 21:12)

Productivity

The earth will be fruitful and men will enjoy the fruit of their labors. (Ps. 67:6-7; 72:16; Isa. 35:1; 55:13; 65:22; Joel 2:24-26; 3:18; Amos 9:13-14)

Mt. Zion

The region of Mt. Zion will be lifted up to form the Mountain of the Lord’s House (where the Millennial Temple will be). (Isa. 2:2; 56:7; Eze. 20:40; 40:2; Zec. 14:4, 10-11; Mic. 4:1)

Israel

Israel will finally inhabit the Promised Land permanently and in peace. She will serve as the focal point of the nations because Jesus will reign from Jerusalem. (Gen. 13:15; 17:8; 1Chr.17:9; Ps. 105:8-11; Isa. 60:21; Jer. 3:18; 7:7; 30:3; 31:8-9; Eze. 37:25; 39:25-29; Amos 9:11-15)

Peace

All implements of war will be destroyed in favor of implements of productivity. Nations will no longer go to war. Disagreements between nations will be judged by Christ from Jerusalem. (Ps. 72:37; Isa. 2:5; 9:7; Eze. 37:26; Mic. 4:3)

Worship

A temple will stand in Jerusalem and all the nations will go up to Jerusalem to the Feast of Tabernacles. Sacrificial offerings will be resumed. (Isa. 2:3; 56:6-7; 60:20-23; Eze. 43:20, 26; 45:15, 17, 20; Jer. 33:18; Dan. 9:24;

Joel 3:18; Hab 2:7-9; Zec. 6:12-15; 8:20-23; 14:16-21; Mal. 3:35)

Demonic Realm

Satan will be bound in the abyss and demons will be imprisoned in the regions of Babylon, Edom, and possibly the abyss. (Isa. 34:8-17; Rev. 18:2; 20:3)

Language

The curse of Babel (Gen. 11:7), which introduced varied languages will be reversed. All the earth will have one language. (Zep. 3:8-12)

(Source: Tony Garland – Spirit & Truth)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

MODERN PROPHETS AND BIBLICAL PROPHETS

prophets1

In these modern days, many people love to add the title of Prophet to their names. Towards the end of the Jesus’ earthly ministry, His disciples came to Him with several questions concerning the future: “Tell us … what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Jesus responded: “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

It is it is our duty as watchmen and watchwomen on the tower, to warn Church members to beware of false prophets and false teachers who lie in wait to deceive and to ensnare and destroy faith and testimony.

How could the people in biblical times tell the difference between a genuine prophet of God and a fraud? The mere claim that someone had the prophetic gift certainly did not make it so. How would the people know which person spoke for God and who did not? What were they to do?

The Lord made provisions for this problem. The Bible lists certain tests for a genuine prophet of God. Moses recorded God as saying:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?”

If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18.18-22 NIV).

There are a number of things we can learn from what the Lord has said about who had the prophetic gift and who did not.

  1. They Were To Speak In The Name Of The Lord

From this passage, we observe that a prophet of God must speak in the name of the Lord. The prophet shall not encourage the people to follow after false gods.

No matter how correct a prophet may seem to be, if he, or she, does not encourage people to follow the Lord, the God of Israel, then that person cannot be considered a prophet of God. Merely getting some future events correct is not enough to be considered a genuine prophet of God.

This is primary.

  1. They Were 100% Right 100% Of The Time

Another characteristic of Bible prophecy is that the biblical prophet must be 100% right 100% of the time. If a prophet is representing the Lord, then their predictions will always be without error.

As soon as a so-called prophet makes one mistake, then that person is no longer able to be called a prophet of the true and living God. God’s prophets did not make mistakes! The prophet Habakkuk wrote:

“The LORD answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 CSB).

The words of the Lord, through the prophets, will indeed truly come to pass, and they will not be late! Indeed, when the Lord predicts the future what He says always comes to pass.

  1. They Had To Give Evidence Of Authenticity Of Their Gift In Their Lifetime

A practical question arises. How would the people know if a particular prophet was sent by God? Anyone could claim to have the prophetic gift.

What if someone claimed to be God’s prophet, yet predicted events that would not be fulfilled for hundreds of years? How could the identity of the prophet be established?

God provided a simple method so that the people would know if this person was actually speaking for the Lord. Their authenticity, as a genuine prophet, would be demonstrated by making a specific prediction of something locally that would happen in their own lifetime.

In other words, before that person could be received as God’s prophet to the people, they had to give supernatural evidence of their calling. This would be evidence which everyone could weigh and evaluate.

An Example: The Local Prediction Of Isaiah

For example, Isaiah the prophet spoke to King Hezekiah about the possible attack of the Assyrian army. He made the following prediction:

“Therefore, this is what the LORD says about the king of Assyria: He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or build up an assault ramp against it” (Isaiah 37:33 CSB).

The prophecy was clear. Although the city of Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army, there would be no destruction whatsoever.

Furthermore, there would not even be one arrow shot into the city by the enemy. This specific prophecy was literally fulfilled. The Bible says:

“Then the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the [next] morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned [home] and lived in Nineveh” (Isaiah 37:36-37 CSB).

Therefore, we have an immediate fulfilment in the lifetime of the prophet Isaiah that demonstrated he was speaking for God. His words came to pass exactly as he said that they would.

The same test held true for other biblical prophets. They had to make a specific, local prediction which would be literally fulfilled in their lifetime before they could be considered as one of God’s true prophets.

Consequently, the people of God would never have to wonder who was truly speaking for Him. A genuine prophet would always be right, would encourage the people to follow the Lord, would command them not to follow other gods, and would accurately predict some event in their own lifetime. Those who passed all of these tests would qualify as a true prophet of God.

The Prophet Could Not Play Any Part In The Fulfilment Of His Or Her Prediction

We should also emphasize that those men and women who gave the divinely-inspired prophecies, the biblical prophets, could not play any part in their fulfilment.

In other words, the predictions they made had to be completely fulfilled apart from anything that they said or did. Consequently, the genuine prophet of God could have absolutely nothing to do with the precise fulfilment of their predictions. This had to be the work of the Lord and of Him alone.

This sums up the tests that the biblical prophets had to pass.

Summary To The Question: What Are The Biblical Tests For A Prophet?

While many people in the ancient world rose up and claimed to be prophets of God, the Lord provided a way in which their claims could be tested.

Indeed, there were a number of tests the Scripture gave to identify a genuine prophet of God. These tests made it clear who was speaking for the Lord and who was not speaking for Him. We can summarize them in the following manner:

According to the Lord, a true prophet of the living God would always be correct in everything that he or she predicts. They could not make any mistakes when making predictions of the future in the name of the Lord.

If they made a mistake, then they could not be speaking for Him, for God does not make mistakes. This test must be passed.

In addition, the biblical prophet must encourage the people to follow after the Lord. This is crucial. It is not enough for the prophet to correctly speak of “things to come.” The prophet must also urge the population to serve the God of Scripture. Otherwise, he or she could not be considered as a genuine prophet.

(Main Source: Don Stewart – God Wants Us To Know The Future)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (27)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 3)

9.        The Leaven of the Pharisees

Reference: Lk. 12:1-12

There are a number of warnings against the leaven of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 16:6, 11; Mk. 8:15, which the Lord described as hypocrisy. A hypocrite is one who plays a false part, one who feigns to be something other than he really is, an actor on the stage who wears a false face. But Jesus declares the day is coming when everything that has been covered up is going to be revealed, when things spoken in secret will be shouted from the housetops.

10.        Parable of the Rich Fool

Reference: Lk. 12:13-34

This parable is introduced as a result of an appeal of a bystander for Jesus to make his brother divide the inheritance with him. Jesus refused, for He apparently saw that this request was motivated by covetousness. A man’s true life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Many a rich man has committed suicide because his riches couldn’t buy anything that satisfied him.

There are a number of principles which may be derived from this parable. A man who lays up treasure just for himself is a pauper towards God. The parable points out the uncertainty of life and of worldly riches. Man works hard to amass a fortune and when he is ready to enjoy it the stock market may crash, he may lose his health, or life itself. And what he has laid up for himself is left behind to be enjoyed and perhaps squandered by others. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is a commentary on this parable. “Yes, I hated all my labors which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that ú shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? Yet shall he have rule over all my labor wherein I have labored” (Eccl. 2:18,19 cf. 5:10-17; 6:1,2).

There are many general lessons to be drawn from this parable; however, there are some important dispensational principles also which must be distinguished. These are primarily “Kingdom teachings” and they are addressed to the little flock to whom the Father was going to give the Kingdom (vs. 32). If the mark of a true Christian is selling all that he possesses and giving away every cent of it, there are not many Christians in the world. Many attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, where all things are had in common, as in Acts 4:32, but they have all ended in failure and delusion. The failure was not that of God’s Word, but of refusing to rightly divide that Word. Having all things common worked as long as God’s Kingdom program was in effect in the early Acts period, but after that program was set aside and God began a new dispensation under Paul, the old program fell apart.

By the end of the Acts period these people, who had had all things common so that no one lacked, found themselves destitute, so that Paul had to take up collections from the Gentile churches to help these poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:25-27). Paul never tells members of the Body of Christ to sell all and give it away. He does tell the believer to work with his own hands, so that he might supply not only his own needs but the needs of others (Eph. 4:28; 1 Thes. 4:11), and if any would not work neither should he eat (2 Thes. 3:10). Paul does not tell the rich to sell everything, but he does charge them to be rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:17,18). Paul’s instructions on Christian giving are to be found especially in 2 Cor. 8 and 9, which he wrote in connection with this collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. If Paul’s Gentile converts had given away all of their possessions they would not have had anything left to give. Political and economic conditions will be vastly different in the coming Kingdom from what they are in the present world.

11.        Parables on Readiness for the Coming of The Son of Man

Reference: Lk. 12:35-48

There is great emphasis in the Kingdom teachings of Christ upon readiness for the coming of the Son of Man to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom here on the earth (cf Matt. 24:42-51; 25:1-13; Mk. 13:34-37; Lk. 21:36).

There are actually three parables in this section. The first is based upon the bridegroom returning from the wedding and finding his servants ready and waiting for him. The second concerns the unexpected visit of the thief who breaks into the house, and the third that of a wise and an unwise steward, one who always acts in view of his master’s expected return, and the other who acts as though his master will long delay his return. This latter parable ends with a statement of principle upon which judgment will be based: greater punishment for those who knew God’s will but did not prepare themselves to do His will, and lesser punishment for those who did not know. Stated in another way: “Unto whom much is given much will be required. Unto whom little is given, less will be required.”

There is always the danger when speaking of judgments and rewards, to apply these things to the salvation of the soul. It will help to remember that no one, in any dispensation, receives salvation as a reward for his works or faithfulness. The unsaved who are finally cast into the lake of fire are judged and punished according to their works, and therefore there will be degrees of punishment. The saved will also be judged, but not for the penalty of their sin which has been forgiven, but for their service for Christ. This will result in reward or loss of reward. Believers in this present dispensation also are instructed to wait for the coming of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:7; Tit. 2:13), but this coming is not to earth to judge the world and to set up His Kingdom, but His coming in the air to catch up the Church in resurrection and glorification.

12.        The Baptism of Death

Reference: Lk. 12:49-59

Christ’s statement that He had come to bring division on earth rather than peace seems to contradict the angel’s announcement of peace on earth, good will toward men. His object in coming was to bring peace, but the effect of His coming was to bring fire and persecution and division, for the people were divided over Him.

Christ was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His ministry, and now He says I have a baptism which will bring my ministry to a close. The first was a baptism in water, the second a baptism into death. This death baptism would be the culmination of the division among the Jews regarding Him. Through the Apostle Paul it has been revealed that the believer shares in His death baptism through the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. “Know ye not that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ (by the Holy Spirit) were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3). For that reason, Paul could say, “I was crucified together with Christ.” None of this truth of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is to be found in the Gospels. It is part of the distinctive revelation given to Paul. (On this death baptism see also Matt. 20:22- 24 and Mk. 10:39).

Christ follows this with a denunciation of the people in that they were able to discern the signs which affected the weather, but were not able to discern or interpret the signs from the Word of God regarding the coming of the Messiah. “This time” in vs. 56 is the time predicted by the prophets, such as Dan. 9:25; see also Matt. 16:2,3.

Then Jesus asked why they could not judge what is right. They were in the wrong and He advised them to do as a man would who was being brought before a judge by an accuser. Settle the matter before you get into court or you will go to jail and stay until you have paid the last penny. This verse is wrongfully used by Roman Catholics to support the idea of purgatory. It is rather advice to get right with God before being hailed into the final judgment from which there is no release, for man can never atone for his own sins.

13.        Repent or Perish

Reference: Lk. 13:1-5

Public calamities often happen and we wonder why certain people should meet such fate. Had they committed some terrible evil? Was God punishing them for their sins? Two such calamities are here mentioned, one in which Pilate had shed the blood of certain Galileans, mixing their blood with the blood of the animal sacrifices they were offering, and the other the death of eighteen men when the tower of Siloam collapsed and crushed them. Jesus said that none of these unfortunate people were greater sinners than the rest, but He predicted, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” It is altogether possible that Jesus had in mind the coming destruction of Jerusalem in which great multitudes perished. The parable which follows bears this out.

14.        Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

Reference: Lk. 13:6-9

There are three basic parables about the fig tree in the Gospels. In two cases the tree was unfruitful. In one it was cursed and withered away (Matt. 21:19), in the other it was cut down. (Cf. Matt. 24:32-35; Mk. 13:28,29; Lk. 21:29-31; for the sign of the Fig.)

Israel is depicted in Scripture under the figure of the Olive Tree, the Fig Tree, and the Vine (cf. Rom. 11:24-26; Isa. 5:7; Jer. 24:1-10). All three are mentioned in Jotham’s fable of the trees in Judg. 9:8-15. The Olive is an evergreen which has great length of life, and is thus a fitting type of Israel’s covenant blessing which will never fail. The Vine seems to refer more to Israel’s spiritual blessings, as set forth in John 15. The Fig probably represents Israel’s national blessings. The Fig was chopped down, but branches of the Vine and the Olive were cut off, so that the covenant and spiritual blessings still existed for those who believed.

The certain man of this parable represents Christ who came to Israel looking for fruit and found none. This is exactly what Christ did in Matt. 21:19 when He cursed the fig tree and it withered away. In this parable, however, the owner of the vineyard told the gardener that He had come for three years looking for fruit and had found none; therefore, cut it down. Why cumbereth it the ground? That is, why is it taking up valuable space and making the ground unproductive. But why did Jesus say, “three years” instead of perhaps two or five? Three years was the length of His public ministry to Israel. But notice that the Dresser of the vineyard interceded in behalf of the fig tree. He said, “Let’s give it one more year. I will cultivate and fertilize it, and if it then bears fruit, well and good, but if it doesn’t, then we will cut it down.”

Traditional interpretation cuts Israel’s fig tree down at the Cross, at the end of Christ’s three-year ministry, and begins an entirely new spiritual order on the day of Pentecost; thus completely negating the plain teaching of this parable. What about the extra year when Israel was to be given another opportunity? What are the historical facts?

First, we know that Christ did intercede for Israel as He hung upon the Cross: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” Next, we know that Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, stated in Acts 3:17 that through ignorance Israel and its rulers crucified Christ. And finally, Peter still addressing the people of Israel states: “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 3:26).

Whether one bases his teaching on this parable or not, the fact is that Israel was not set aside at the Cross, but because of Christ’s intercession Israel was given another opportunity in the early chapters of Acts to repent and receive her Kingdom blessings. If Israel and her Kingdom were not set aside in early Acts, then it is evident that a new and unprophesied spiritual order did not begin on that notable Pentecost. Instead it was the fulfillment and continuation of Israel’s prophetic Kingdom program.

15.        A Daughter of Abraham Healed

Reference: Lk. 13:10-17

It seems that Jesus intentionally performed many of His healing miracles on the Sabbath day, apparently to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8), and also that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath (Mk. 2:27,28).

As Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath He saw this woman with a strange illness which Satan had brought upon her, so that for eighteen years she had not been able to stand up straight, but was constantly bowed over. He called the woman and laid His hands on her and pronounced her healed and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. The president of the synagogue was indignant, got up and announced to the congregation there were six days in the week for working; therefore, come on one of those days to be healed. No wonder that Jesus stood up and no doubt pointed His finger at the ruler and said: “Thou hypocrite; does not each one of you untie your ox or ass and lead it out to drink on the sabbath? Ought not this daughter of Abraham whom Satan has bound be loosed from her infirmity on the sabbath?” This rebuff shamed the leaders and the remainder of the people rejoiced for the glorious things Jesus had done. The contrast is between the bowed over woman who was made straight, and the upright indignant ruler who was forced to bow in shame.

16.        The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven

Reference: Lk. 13:18-21

They were told again here to meet the immediate need. The word “Then” in vs. 18 shows the connection between what went before and these two parables. The word is actually “therefore.”

Both parables begin with something small which grows into something large: a seed becomes a great tree, and a few cells of yeast multiply until all of the meal is permeated. This is what the Kingdom of God is likened unto. The usual interpretation is that the Gospel begins in a very small way in the hearts of a few and it grows until it converts the whole world. The only thing wrong with this interpretation is that it is contrary to the facts. The world did not get converted under the preaching of the Kingdom Gospel, and it is far from being converted after 2000 years of the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. It is also contrary to Scripture because Scripture plainly asserts a great apostasy will take place before the return of Christ.

Other parables liken the Kingdom to a field in which good and bad seed is sown and both grow up together until the return of Christ, and to a net cast into the sea that enmeshes both good and rough fish, or to different kinds of soil, some of which produces little if any fruit. Therefore, when we think about the Kingdom of which Jesus was speaking, we must not think of heavenly bliss with everything pure and holy. It is something like the temple at Jerusalem. It is called the temple of God. Jesus called it My Father’s house, but it had become a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12,13). Israel’s Kingdom was the Kingdom of God but it was filled with evil.

Some feel that the fowls of the air which lodged in the mustard tree are representative of Satan’s emissaries, as they apparently are in the parable in Mk. 4:4, which devoured the good seed before it could sprout. Likewise, leaven is always representative of the principle of evil at work. Leaven was excluded from the food and even the homes at Passover (Ex. 13:6,7). Jesus called the false teachings of the Pharisees leaven (Matt. 16: 6). Paul likened leaven to malice and wickedness and warned that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6-8). Thus these two parables explain how a daughter of Abraham in the Kingdom of God could be bound by Satan for eighteen years, and how the rulers of the synagogue could be so blinded as to rebuke the Lord for healing this woman on the Sabbath day.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$100.00

Donations

$10.00

JOHN WALVOORD’S COMMENTARY ON REVELATION 12

Woman-Pregnant

THE CONFLICT IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH

Revelation 12 is a parenthetical section of the book of Revelation, which actually only ends at 14:20. Within this section seven primary characters are introduced: (1) the woman, representing Israel, (2) the dragon, representing Satan, (3) a male child, referring to Christ, (4) Michael, representing the angels, (5) Israel, the remnant of the woman’s seed, (6) the beast out of the sea, the world dictator, and (7) the beast out of the earth, the false prophet and religious leader of the world. Around these main characters swirls the tremendously moving scene of the great tribulation. Chapter 12 is the most symbolic chapter in the Bible’s most symbolic book.

THE WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN: ISRAEL (12:1–2)

12:1–2 “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.”

The first of the seven personages to be introduced in this section is the woman who is described as a great sign in heaven, clearly indicated to be someone of regal splendor. The word “sign” signifies a symbol of important truth rather than merely a wonder. Subsequently, six other signs are mentioned (12:3; 13:13–14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20). This sign in verse 1 is distinguished by being called “great.” Though the sign is seen in heaven, it apparently portrays a reality on the earth, for the woman pictured is afterward persecuted by Satan in the great tribulation. The woman is pregnant and due to give birth to a son.

Many explanations have been offered for the identity of this woman.

She does not represent Christ, nor the church in general because the church did not give birth to Christ. On the contrary, Christ gave birth to the church. Since the woman’s child is obviously Christ, some have suggested this is Mary—an implausible identification given that this woman is persecuted in the last half of the tribulation. The Roman Catholic Church insists this is Mary, but the church also teaches that Mary gave birth to Christ without pain, a teaching that is contradicted by Revelation 12.

Rather, the woman is Israel as the matrix from which Christ came. By contrast, other representative women mentioned in Revelation are Jezebel (2:20), representative of false religion as a system; the harlot (17:1–7, 15–18), the apostate church of the future; and the bride, the Lamb’s wife (19:7), the church joined to Christ in glory.

The identification of the woman of Revelation 12 as Israel is consistent with Old Testament teaching. There Israel is frequently presented as the wife of Yahweh, often in her character as being unfaithful to her husband (cf. Hosea’s prophecy). Here is the godly remnant of Israel standing true to God in the time of the great tribulation.

The regal description of the woman is an allusion to Genesis 37:9–11, where these heavenly bodies represent Jacob and Rachel, thereby identifying the woman with the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.

In the same context, the stars represent the patriarchs, the sons of Jacob. The symbolism may extend beyond this to represent in some sense the glory of Israel and her ultimate triumph over her enemies. This identification of the woman as Israel also seems to be supported by the evidence from this chapter. Israel is obviously the source from which have come many of the blessings of God, including the Bible, Christ, and the apostles. According to Isaiah 9:6, Israel is the source of the Messiah.

As noted above, the persecution of the woman coincides with the persecution of Israel. The woman as the nation of Israel is seen in the pain of childbirth, awaiting delivery of her child. Frequently in Scripture, Israel is pictured in the tribulation time as going through great trial and affliction. Though historically the nation gave birth to Christ through the Virgin Mary, the implication of verse 2 is that the references are to the sufferings of Israel as a nation rather than to the historic birth of Christ. It may refer to the sufferings of the nation in general over its entire history. If strictly interpreted, it may signify the pain of Israel at the time of the first coming of Christ as borne out by verses 3 and 4.

THE GREAT RED DRAGON: SATAN (12:3–4)

12:3–4 “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.”

The second sign appearing in heaven is a great dragon. From the similar description given in 13:1 and the parallel reference in Daniel 7:7–8, 24, it is clear that the revived Roman Empire is in view. Satan, however, is also called the dragon later in 12:9, and it is clear that the dragon is both the empire and the representation of satanic power. The color red may indicate his murderous characteristics (cf. John 8:44).

The seven heads and ten horns refer to the original ten kingdoms of Daniel 7:7–8, of which three were subdued by the little horn who is to be identified with the world ruler of the great tribulation who reigns over the revived Roman Empire.

The tail of the dragon is declared to draw a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. This seems to refer to the gathering under his power of those who oppose him politically, and also involves his temporary subjugation of a large portion of the earth.

The dragon is seen awaiting the birth of the child with the intent to destroy it as soon as it is born. The allusion here is unmistakably to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (the dragon referring to the Roman Empire at that time as dominated by Satan) and the attempts of Herod to destroy the baby Jesus (cf. Matt 2:13–15). It is significant that Herod as an Edomite was a descendant of Esau and of the people who were the traditional enemies of Jacob and his descendants. Whether motivated by his family antipathy to the Jews or by political consideration because he did not want competition in his office as king, Herod nevertheless fulfilled historically this reference to the destruction of children in Bethlehem.

THE CHILD: CHRIST (12:5–6)

12:5–6 “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”

The woman identified as Israel gives birth to a child who is destined to rule all nations with an iron rod (a reference to the Messiah from Ps. 2:9), but who for the time being is caught up to God’s throne. A similar expression is found in Revelation 19:15, where it is stated of Christ, “He will rule them with a rod of iron,” to be distinguished from His rule over Israel, which is of more benevolent character (cf. Luke 1:32–33).

While many Bible expositors have agreed that the woman is Israel, there has been considerable difference of opinion on the identity of the child. Some have argued that this is the New Testament church destined to reign with Christ and that the act of being caught up to God is the rapture. But the church is not the “child” of Israel, nor is the church’s mission to rule the nations. In addition, the child is clearly identified as a male, while the church is referred to in the feminine as the bride of Christ (cf. Rev. 19:6–8).

Though the pregnant woman is to be identified with Israel collectively rather than with the Virgin Mary specifically, the interpretation that the child is Christ Himself is far preferable. His catching up to God and to His throne seems to represent His ascension. An alternative view is that the “catching up” refers to the flight to Egypt after Jesus’ birth to protect Him from Herod (cf. Matt. 2:13–15). But that incident does not satisfy the conditions of Revelation 12:5, where the catching up is to the throne of God in heaven.

The Greek verb for “caught up” in verse 5 is a form of the word harpazō. This word is sometimes used to mean “to seize” or “to catch up,” as a wild beast would its prey, as in John 10:12 where the wolf “snatches them and scatters them.” The same word is used for the rapture of the church in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where the church is caught up to heaven, and is likewise used of Paul being caught up to paradise (2 Cor. 12:2, 4), and of the Spirit of God catching up Philip (Acts 8:39).

If the identification of the twenty-four elders is properly to be regarded as the church in heaven, it would seem to mix metaphors to have the church represented as a male child, especially when the church is regarded in chapter 19 as the wife and bride. There is no good reason for not identifying the man-child as Christ and interpreting the drama of verse 5 as describing His ascension, as noted above. The fact that He is caught up not only to God but to “his throne” is another indication that Christ is intended.

In verse 6, the attention is directed back to the child’s mother, Israel. Here she is seen in the time of great tribulation fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared by God where for 1,260 days she is cared for (again, the exact length of three-and-a-half years). There is obviously a tremendous time lapse between verses 5 and 6, but this is not an uncommon occurrence in prophecy; the first and second comings of Christ are frequently spoken of in the same sentence. Since Israel is comparatively tranquil and safe in the first three-and-a-half years of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:27), the reference must be to the preservation of a portion of the nation Israel through the great tribulation to await the second coming of Christ.

SATAN CAST OUT OF HEAVEN BY MICHAEL (12:7–9)

12:7–9 “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Though the conflict of the end of the age is primarily on earth, there will also be war in heaven. Michael and his angels (that is, the holy angels) fight against Satan and the evil angels associated with him, with the result that Satan and his hordes are thrown out of heaven. The description of Satan in verse 9 is significant as all of his important titles are given: “the dragon,” a term that also applies to the empire that he dominates in the end time; “that ancient serpent,” a reference to the Garden of Eden and the temptation of Eve; “devil,” which means “defamer” or “slanderer,” the master accuser of believers; and Satan, meaning “adversary.” This name is mentioned fourteen times in the book of Job, and occasionally elsewhere (1 Chron. 21:1; Ps. 109:6; Zech. 3:1–2). Given Satan’s all-out opposition to God, it is fitting that the Greek construction of verse 7 indicates that the dragon will start this war.

The concept that there is a spiritual warfare in the very presence of God in heaven has been resisted by some expositors, preferring to regard this war as being fought in the atmospheric or the starry heaven rather than in the very presence of God. The event here prophesied was predicted by Daniel the prophet in Daniel 12:1, where it is recorded that Michael shall “arise” as the one “who has charge of your people.” This event marks the beginning of the great tribulation described in Daniel 12:1. It is undoubtedly the same event as in Revelation 12.

It may seem strange to some that Satan should have access to the very throne of God. Yet this is precisely the picture of Job 1, where Satan along with other angels presents himself before God and accuses Job of fearing God because of God’s goodness to him. Thus early in biblical revelation, Satan is cast in the role of “the accuser of our brothers,” the title given him in Revelation 12:10.

From this point in Revelation, therefore, Satan and his hosts are excluded from the third heaven, the presence of God, although their temporary dominion over the second heaven (outer space) and the first heaven (the sky) continues. Satan’s defeat in heaven, however, is the occasion for him to be cast down to earth and explains the particular virulence of the great tribulation time. Note that even as Satan accuses believers before God day and night prior to his being thrown out of heaven, so the four living creatures of 4:8 do not stop day or night to ascribe holiness to the Lord.

This is another place where we must let the words and events of Scripture speak for themselves and take them at their face value unless compelled to do otherwise. Satan, the deceiver of the whole world (literally, “the inhabited earth”), is now limited in the sphere of his operation. A major step is taken in his ultimate defeat. Believers in this present dispensation, who are now the objects of satanic attack and misrepresentation, can rest assured of the ultimate downfall of Satan and the end of his ability to afflict the people of God. Though the events of this chapter deal in general with the end of the age, it is clear that they do not come chronologically after the seventh trumpet. Rather, the fall of Satan may be predated to the time of the seals in chapter 6, or even before the first seal. His fall begins the great tribulation.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF SATAN’S WRATH AND THE SAINTS’ ULTIMATE VICTORY (12:10–12)

12:10–12 “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

The loud voice making this important announcement is not identified and probably cannot be with certainty. Some have ascribed this voice to God Himself, others to the angels, the twenty-four elders, or the martyred saints in heaven mentioned in 6:10, because they also cry with a loud voice. Support for the latter view is given in that in the same verse the loud voice mentions “the accuser of our brothers.” This would seem to eliminate angels and indicate believers in heaven. The “loud voice” may very well be the shout of triumph of the tribulation saints longing for and anticipating their ultimate victory.

The salvation mentioned here is not salvation from the guilt of sin but salvation in the sense of deliverance and completion of the divine program. The reference to strength implies that now God is going to strengthen His own and manifest His own power. The kingdom being announced is the millennial kingdom when Christ will reign on the earth. Coupled with this is the power or authority of Christ. The expression “his Christ,” also used in 11:15, parallels “his anointed” in Psalm 2:2, a reference to God’s Messiah against whom the kings of the earth rebel but under whose authority they are certain to come.

The victory of the saints in that hour is revealed in verse 11 through the use of three strong spiritual weapons. Satan’s accusations are nullified by the blood of the Lamb that renders the believer pure and makes possible his spiritual victory. The word of the believers’ testimony opposes the deceiving work of Satan in that the preaching of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The believers also exhibit total commitment to their task in which many of them die as martyrs. The word for “loved” is a form of the familiar Greek word agapē, which describes the love of God. Though these believers do not foolishly seek a martyr’s death, they do not regard their lives as more precious than their witness for Christ. They follow the instruction given to the church in Smyrna (2:10) of being faithful unto death, as well as the example of the Savior, who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15; cf.  Matt. 16:25).

The voice from heaven continues, exhorting those in the heavens to rejoice because of this great victory. At the same time, the voice pronounces a solemn woe upon the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea. The awfulness of the hour ahead is attributed to the fact that the devil has been thrown down to earth and is about to unleash his wrath on the earth’s inhabitants.

The short time Satan has, refers to the great tribulation after which he will be bound for the duration of the millennial kingdom. Though many of the judgments of God inflicted on the earth during the great tribulation originate in divine power rather than satanic influence, the afflictions of the inhabitants of the earth spring largely from the activities of Satan, resulting in the martyrdom of countless saints and in widespread human suffering of every kind.

THE PERSECUTION OF ISRAEL IN THE GREAT TRIBULATION (12:13–16)

12:13–16 “And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.”

Satan immediately turns his anger toward Israel. This apparently is the beginning of the great tribulation of which Christ warned Israel in Matthew 24:15–22. This had its foreshadowing in Herod’s slaughter of the infants following the birth of Christ (Matt. 2:16). It seems here to refer specifically to the great tribulation that is yet future. The persecution of Israel is a part of the satanic program to thwart and hinder the work of God. As far as Israel is concerned, this had its beginning in the miraculous intervention of God required to bring about the birth of Isaac and fulfill this portion of the promise to Abraham.

Satan used other means thereafter to persecute the descendants of Jacob, including the effort in the time of Esther to blot them out completely.

Israel is hated by Satan not because of any of its own characteristics, but because she is the chosen of God and essential to the overall purpose of God for time and eternity.

The divine intervention of God thwarts this attempt at satanic persecution. The figure of the “two wings of the great eagle” seems to be derived from Exodus 19:4, Deuteronomy 32:11–12, and similar passages where God uses the strength of an eagle to illustrate His faithfulness in caring for Israel. The same flight is indicated in Matthew 24:16, where Christ warns those in Judea to flee to the mountains.

Some have felt that the reference here is to some specific place such as the rock city of Petra, in the southern part of modern Jordan, as the end-time city of refuge for the Jewish people where at least a portion of Israel might be safe from her persecutors. Fruchtenbaum makes a strong case for Petra, pointing to clues in Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14; Isaiah 33:13–16; Micah 2:12; and Daniel 11:41. Benware links this time of tribulation with Jesus’ judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, which relates to the Gentiles’ treatment of Israel as the nation undergoes this persecution.

Verse 14 implies that there is some supernatural care of Israel during this period such as that which Elijah experienced by the brook Cherith (cf. 1 Kings 17:5), or that which Israel experienced during the forty years she lived on the manna in the wilderness. Whether natural or supernatural means are used, it is clear that God does preserve a godly remnant, though according to Zechariah 13:8, two-thirds of Israel in the land will perish.

The time element of Israel’s suffering is described as “a time, and times, and half a time.” This again seems to be a reference to the three-and-a-half years of tribulation. A parallel reference is found in Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 referring to the same period of great tribulation. The dragon is here called a serpent (cf. Matt. 10:16; John 3:14 where the word is used in other contexts; Rev. 12:9, 14–15; 20:2 where “serpent” is used in connection with the devil).

The flood sent by Satan to destroy Israel and God’s supernatural protection have been the subject of various interpretations. This may be a literal flood, but the contour of the Holy Land and the fact that Israel’s people would probably not all flee in the same direction combine to make such a literal, physical interpretation improbable.

It is more plausible to understand this symbolically. The flood is the total effort of Satan to exterminate Israel, and the resistance of earth is the natural difficulty in executing such a massive program. The terrain of the Middle East provides countless places of refuge for a fleeing people. Though the exact meaning of these two verses cannot be determined with certainty, the implication is that Satan strives with all his power to persecute and exterminate the people of Israel. By divine intervention, both natural and supernatural means are used to thwart the enemy’s program and carry a remnant of Israel safely through their time of great tribulation.

THE PERSECUTION OF THE GODLY REMNANT OF ISRAEL (12:17)

12:17 “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”

The godly remnant of Israel is identified by their faith in Christ, “all those who name the name of Jesus Christ.” While the program of Satan is against the Jewish race as such, anti-Semitism as a whole will reach its peak against Jewish believers during this period. There is a double antagonism against those in Israel who turn to Christ as their Messiah and Savior in those critical days and maintain a faithful witness.

Undoubtedly, many of them will suffer a martyr’s death, but others will survive the period, including the 144,000 sealed in chapter 7.

In some versions of the Bible such as the New International Version (NIV) and the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the phrase translated here as “and he stood on the sand of the sea” is part of Revelation 13:1, although in the Greek text it is listed as Revelation 12:17. The English Standard Version (ESV) better reflects the Greek text, which suggests that the dragon is the subject of the verb “stood,” rather than John and also ties the dragon more closely to his origin in the sea. The reading “I stood,” meaning John, is found in the majority of the Greek manuscripts, but the reading “he stood,” meaning the dragon, is attested by the better manuscripts.

Taken as a whole, chapter 12 is a fitting introduction to the important revelations given in chapter 13. Here are the principal actors of the great tribulation with the historic background that provides so much essential information. Israel, Satan, Christ, the archangel, and the godly remnant figure largely in the closing scenes of the age. Next, the two principal human actors are then introduced: the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth, the human instruments that Satan will use to direct his program during the great tribulation.

(Source: John F Walvoord – Revelation)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (26)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 2)

6.     The Feast of Dedication Reference: John 10:22-42

The feast of dedication was not one of the original Mosaic feasts in Israel. This feast was established during the inter-testament period by Judas Maccabaeus when he freed Jerusalem and the Temple from the Greeks in 164 B.C. It was held on the 25th of Chisleu (December), which seems to be good evidence that Jesus was not born on that day. Just three years to the day after Antiochus Epiphanes had desecrated the temple it was rededicated. The word dedication means “renewal.” It was also called the feast of Lights. For the eight days of the festival lights were kindled in the temple and in every Jewish home. Solomon’s porch, according to Josephus, was a remnant of the original temple of Solomon which had remained intact after the Babylonian destruction. It was on the east side and the morning sun would warm the place on a winter morning.

The Jews asked Jesus, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus had told them plainly on several occasions and He repeats His claim to Messiahship again. Jesus attributed their unbelief to the fact that they were not His sheep and therefore did not hear His voice. The case was just the opposite with those who were His sheep.

Verses 28 and 29 are very strong security promises for the believer. “I give (not will give or may give) unto them eternal life and (if it is eternal then it must be true) they shall never perish.” The believer is pictured as being held in the hand of Christ, and His hand held in the Father’s hand, so that no man will ever be able to snatch him out of those almighty hands.

Christ follows this, not only with the claims of Messiahship, but with equality with the Father: “I and my Father are one.” The Greek reads: “I and my Father one we are.” The verb is plural and “one” is neuter singular. If “one” had been masculine, it might have implied “one person.” The neuter implies “one in essence.” The statement thus affirms the distinction of Persons in the Godhead and the unity of essence and nature. But this claim of equality with God, perfectly understood by the Jews, angered the Jews and they took up stones again to kill Him for blasphemy. They could find no fault with the good works which Jesus had done, but for a man to make Himself God was too much. Then Jesus quoted Scripture to them, as He often did: “Is it not written in your law, I have said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken, say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

You will notice that Jesus said that this was written “in your law,” that is, the Jew’s law, which means God was calling certain Jews gods. This fact is further emphasized in the statement “to whom the word of God came.” The word of God came only to the people of Israel back then. This does not mean that God called every Israelite a god; howbeit, He did call them all, children of the most High (Ps. 82:6). This verse begins, “I have said,” indicating that God had said this previously.

If we turn back to Ex. 21:6 and 22:8,9, we discover that the word translated “judges” in these verses is the Hebrew “Elohim,” or gods. Moses is also called a god in Ex. 7:1. Thus God called the judges, the prophets, and the rulers “gods” as being His representatives. Jesus is not saying that He is a god only in the sense that the judges of Israel were called gods. But rather, if they could be called gods in an official sense, how much more properly could He, who was sealed and consecrated by the Father, be called, Son of God. After answering their charge of blasphemy He appeals again to the character of His works: If they don’t bear the character of the Father, don’t believe me; but if they do, which you have admitted, believe the testimony of the works, even though you don’t believe me, that you may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. Again, they would have stoned Him but He escaped out of their hands. So Jesus went away again “beyond Jordan” where John at the first had baptized and there He abode and many believed on Him, for John’s testimony of Him had proved to be true.

We should point out that Jesus also defended the infallibility of the Scripture on several occasions: here, when He asserted: “The scripture cannot be broken.”

7.     Discourse on Prayer Reference: Lk. 11:1-13

This chapter begins with Jesus teaching some disciples to pray, as John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. Jesus used almost the same format for prayer as we find in the sermon on the mount. The setting here in Luke seems altogether different from that in Matthew, although the wording of the prayer is very similar.

A The Parable of the Importunate Friend.

Jesus follows this instruction with two parables on prayer. The first is that of the Importunate Friend, and is found only in Luke. On the surface prayer seems to be a very simple thing, simply making request for a particular need. But there is more in the outworking of prayer than human wisdom can fathom. Men rationalize that if God has foreordained and foreknown everything that will ever happen from the beginning, how can man’s prayer cause anything different to happen? We can answer only by saying that God has ordained the means as well as the result, and prayer is often the means. Thus, God foreknew that a missionary would have a particular need and that He would supply that need, but He also foreknew that a group of believers ten thousand miles away would pray for that need and their prayer would be answered.

The present parable deals with the importunity of prayer. Importune means to urge with frequent application, press urgently, be insistent. The parable seems to be saying that if one keeps on asking long enough God will finally give in and grant the request. But on another occasion the Lord said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). The parable is not encouraging man to act like a selfish child, always crying, “Gi’me! Gi’me!” There is more to real prayer than simply saying, “Bless the foreign missionaries,” and then taking the attitude you have discharged your duty and there is no further need to talk to God about it until another urgent request is received. Prayer should be born of concern. If a loved one is at the point of death, we do not pray in that fashion. We continue in prayer pouring out our hearts, and that is a good Pauline admonition: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). The teaching of the parable seems to be if we can by importunity obtain our requests from an unwilling friend, how much more can we expect to receive from a willing Giver?

B The Parable of Fatherhood.

This is a self-explanatory parable of God’s willingness to give good things to His children. Often people think of God only as a Judge whose only motive is to catch us doing wrong, to punish, and to take away our pleasures. God is, of course, a righteous Judge, but the believer has passed out of judgment into God’s family and now knows God as a loving Father. The objects which Christ contrasted in this parable: a stone for a loaf of bread, a serpent for a fish, and a scorpion for an egg, might seem odd at first sight, but there is a similarity in appearance between these pairs of objects. There are also contrasts between an earthly father and the Heavenly Father and between good material gifts and spiritual gifts.

Apparently the Lord did not mean that the Father would give the Person of the Holy Spirit to those who asked, for Christ made it plain that the Holy Spirit could not come as an indwelling presence until He had ascended to the Father (John 16:7). In the Greek text Holy Spirit appears without the definite article, and this usage usually means gifts or endowments of the Spirit. Christ also told His disciples while He was with them the Holy Spirit was also with them, but that later on He would be in them. Believers in the present dispensation do not have to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit; nor do they have to tarry for Him (Lk. 24:49); they receive Him and are sealed by Him upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where the present participle “after ye believed” should be translated, “upon believing”). Both of these parables lend great encouragement to the child of God to make request to His heavenly Father.

8.     Conflict With the Pharisees

A The Unpardonable Sin: Matt. 12:22-32; Mk. 3:22-30; Lk. 11:14-23.

After healing a man who was blind and dumb, the Pharisees accused Jesus of using Satanic power, but Jesus showed the inconsistency of such a charge, for in that case Satan would be fighting against himself and his kingdom would be destroyed. But if He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, this was proof that the Kingdom of God had come upon them. He illustrated this truth with the parable of the stronger man (Christ) binding the strong man (Satan) and then spoiling his goods. Matthew and Mark give the added details of what is generally called the unpardonable sin.

Christ stated that all manner of sin against the Son of man would be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would never be forgiven: it is an eternal sin. This passage has caused many Christians to fear, lest they have committed this sin and have therefore lost their salvation. First of all, it should be evident that anyone who is sincerely concerned about being saved through faith in Christ has not committed this sin. In fact, after one has received the gift of eternal life and has been sealed by the Spirit unto the future day of redemption, there is no sin or power that can separate him from the love of Christ, or as we have recently seen from John 10, nothing that can snatch such a one out of the hands of Christ and the Father.

The unpardonable sin is usually interpreted as ascribing the work of Christ which He wrought through the power of the Holy Spirit to Satan, as these Pharisees were doing. It seems, however, there is a deeper meaning than this, for Jesus Himself prayed that these people who had thus accused Him and finally had Him crucified might be forgiven because they really didn’t know what they were doing. However, when the Holy Spirit was miraculously poured out at Pentecost and the people of Israel were enlightened by the Spirit (cf. Heb. 2:3,4; 6:4-6), they were no longer ignorant of what they were doing. We read in the book of Acts that the Jews blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, which means that that generation of natural Israel committed this sin and they could not be renewed unto repentance. This, we believe, is the true meaning of that sin. It was committed by Israel, and as such it is a sin which cannot be committed today. Every sin is forgivable through faith in Christ, and no sin is forgivable apart from faith in Him.

B The Unclean Spirit Who Returned: Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-26.

All we know about demon spirits is what we read in Scripture. Jesus said that when such a spirit goes out of a man he walks through dry places seeking rest and finds none, so he returns to the man from whence he departed and finds the place swept and garnished and then brings with him seven other spirits worse than himself and the latter end of the possessed man is worse than the first. This is apparently not a case where a demon had been cast out by Jesus, for we cannot imagine that these people He healed ended up the worse for His healing. It seems that the demon left of his own accord, at least when he left, the man’s house or body was left empty, unoccupied.

When a person is saved today his body is occupied by the Holy Spirit, which rules out the possibility of an evil spirit coming back to take possession again. It seems that man’s body is either occupied or strongly influenced by either the Holy Spirit or the evil spirit. Paul states that before we were saved, the prince of the power of the air was the spirit that was energizing us (Eph. 2:2). This does not mean that all unsaved people are demon possessed, but it does mean that Satan has access to their spirits and can mightily work in them. But thank God, the Spirit who energizes us is greater than Satan and will not permit him to take control of us, although when the Spirit is grieved and not allowed His rightful place in our lives it is possible for Satan to take advantage of us.

Some feel that this story of the unclean spirit is a case history of Israel. Israel became idolatrous in O.T. times; God sent them into captivity and they gave up their idolatry in reformation without actually committing themselves to God, and now in the days of Christ the demons have come back and the latter state of Israel is worse than it was at the first.

C The Mistaken Woman: Lk. 11:27, 28.

People often make the mistake of placing the emphasis upon the wrong thing. What they say is not necessarily untrue, but the truth is distorted. While Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd, apparently admiring Jesus for His wonderful words and works, and perhaps wishing that she had had a son like that, shouted out: “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked!” The woman was blessing the mother of Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself.

Sad to say, this mistake has become a creed in Christendom. She is honored as the Mother of God, immaculately conceived, assumed up into heaven, where she intercedes for mankind with her Son, Jesus. Mary was indeed highly honored in being chosen to become the human mother of Jesus Christ, but the gentle rebuke of Jesus in answering this woman clearly indicates that Jesus did not give Mary the exalted place above Himself which Rome has given her. Jesus said, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.” He did not dishonor His human mother, but as far as blessedness was concerned, any humble soul who heard God’s word and obeyed it was more blessed than His mother in the flesh.

D The Sign of the Prophet Jonah: Matt. 12:38-42; Lk. 11:29-32.

It will be noted that Matthew placed the sign of Jonah before the story of the unclean spirit, whereas Luke reverses the order. Matthew includes the statement: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth,”(cf. Jonah 1:17), whereas Luke simply states: “For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” The men of Ninevah will rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of Jesus’ day, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching (cf. Jon. 3:5-10), and a greater One than Jonah was there present and they repented not.

The Queen of Sheba will also testify against those of Jesus’ day, for she came from a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (cf. 2 Chron. 9:1-12), and a greater than Solomon was there. The generation which lived through the earthly ministry of Christ bore the greatest responsibility of any generation in the past. Earlier generations had much less light of revelation and yet in many cases they were more responsive than those of Jesus’ day. It is our belief that people in our present generation bear even a greater responsibility than those of Jesus’ day, for we have the full and completed revelation of God’s Word which leaves man totally without any excuse whatsoever.

E Parable of the Lighted Lamp: Lk. 41:33-36; cf. Matt. 5:15; Mk. 4:21; Lk. 8:16; Matt. 6:22,23. See notes on the above passages where this parable is expounded.

F Dining at the Pharisee’s House: Lk. 11:37-54.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to dinner marvelled that Jesus did not baptize Himself before reclining at the table. It would have been a great service to the English reader if the translators had always rendered the Greek “baptizo” as baptize, instead of “wash” as in this instance. By saying that Jesus and His disciples did not wash before eating, the impression is left that Jesus paid little attention to bodily cleanliness. Also the true significance of baptism is veiled. Most Christians suppose that baptism has only one meaning and that it is a ceremony to be performed only once at the time they join the church. The Mosaic religion contained many baptisms, according to Heb. 9:10, and the Jews had added many more since Moses’ day. They ceremonially baptized themselves before every meal, as well as baptizing their eating utensils. Jesus not only did not practice these traditions of the elders, but stated that these practices had made void the word of God.

It was no doubt because Jesus understood what was going on in this Pharisee’s mind that He began pronouncing woes upon them. They washed the outside of the cup, the part that man could see, but left the inside dirty and encrusted with mold and corruption. If only they would cleanse the inside they would not have to worry about the outside. They obeyed meticulously the smallest outward requirements of the law, such as tithing of various things, but they passed over judgment and the love of God. They should have done the lesser outward things, but even more they should have done the weightier things that were inward.

He said they were like unmarked tombs that men trample underfoot without knowing it. In another place He called them whitewashed tombs, white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones. There were some lawyers present also, the experts in interpreting the Bible. And they said, “Master, you have insulted us also by your words.” And Jesus fearlessly flayed them also. They placed heavy burdens upon the laity but freed themselves from all obligation. They built tombs for the prophets which their fathers had murdered, thus consenting to the deeds of their fathers. And again we see the great responsibility which devolved upon that generation. He said that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the beginning of the world, all the way from the blood of Abel down to the blood of Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-22), would be required of this generation. The lawyers had taken away the key of knowledge; they had not gone in themselves and they stopped those who were trying to go into the Kingdom.

It had not been a very pleasant dinner party for the Pharisees and Lawyers. After dinner they became very bitter and tried to draw Him out on many subjects, hoping to pounce upon some incriminating statement, whereby they might condemn Him.

For further denunciations of the Pharisees, cf. Matt. 23:4-36 and Mk. 12:38-40.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A LETTER FROM THE DEVIL

download

Today the devil has no need to seduce, harangue or write threatening letters to most who call themselves Christians. That is because he already controls the lukewarm segment of the Church! In fact, he has placed his very own “angels of light” in the pulpits. He has entrusted to them a lukewarm religion of mixture: just enough tradition combined with a great deal of wickedness. The Church today pays tribute to the devil by producing wicked music, and calling for “Christian” entertainment and practicing of double standards.

Most “Christians” today walk in fear and intimidation, accommodate worldliness and are afraid to step out boldly and expose sin for what it is.

No, the devil’s onslaught today remains focused on those precious ones whose hearts are set wholly on hungering after the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s remnant Church on earth is Satan’s target because she is under covenant with the Lord and, therefore, poses a tremendous threat to the kingdom of darkness.

You see, the moment you give up on this world and put your life wholly in the hands of the Lord -watch out: All hell will come against you! You will become a target of the devil, and you will come under siege. You will be tested severely to see if you will really trust God in all things. And everywhere you look, you will see the enemy standing against you.

SATAN USES SUBTLE DEVICES AGAINST THE REMNANT

The first trick is to question a believer’s commitment to trust the Lord fully. “God is not going to get you out of this mess. You are going down! You are in real trouble, and your faith is not going to work.”

Are you in a mess right now – in really deep trouble? Has the devil told you that God is not going to rescue you, your faith is too weak or too little? Perhaps you are unemployed right now, and your bills are slowly mounting. You are scared because everything looks hopeless. You hear the devil laugh, “In spite of all your love for Jesus, giving up the world, doing the right things and trusting in God, it’s not going to work. You are destined to fail! You are going to end up broke, hounded by creditors and headed for suicide.”

“What can you do to stop this trouble? How will you make it if you can’t find a job-if you can’t see even a month ahead of you, let alone your whole future? How can you possibly survive if there is an army of troubles coming in behind your present ones? Do you really believe God is going to work a miracle for you and get you out of this big mess? Give up! Here – I have a deal to offer you….”

Now Satan adds a new twist: He tells you that God is the one behind all your troubles. Satan will try to convince you that God is getting even with you, that He is mad at you. This is his slickest lie! He makes you believe God has forsaken you and turned you over to trouble and sorrow. He wants you to think all your problems are the result of God’s punishment for your past sins. Don’t believe it! It is Satan who is out to destroy you.

No, dear saint, you are not going down. You are simply under attack, being barraged by the enemy’s lies because you have set your heart truly to trust in the Lord. Satan is trying to destroy your faith in God.

Another device Satan uses to intensify his attack on you is to try to focus your attention on his victories over other Christians. Satan will boast, “I am more powerful than your God. I brought down some of your biggest evangelists and seduced them into gross sin. I turned some of them into money-crazed liars. Those fallen televangelists were supposed to be close to the Lord, but look how they ended up. If preachers can’t make it, how can you? What makes you think God is going to answer you when so many spiritual giants are falling?”

Satan will bring to your mind all the Christians who claimed to trust God but who suffer trouble, sickness and even death. He will point out some dear friend, who is always in pain and has so little to live on she seems crushed by it. The enemy will say, “She trusted God -and look what it got her!”

Another of Satan’s tricks is to paint a fantastic picture of what your life could be like if you make a deal with him. The devil’s voice whispers, “There’s no need for you to be a nobody or to suffer unjustly. Just come out of your narrow, straight ways and I’ll fix things for you. You’re going to prosper! I’ll give you all the money you need. No more bills, no more just making ends meet. I’ll open the bank for you.”

What a crooked salesman the devil is! He tells you, “Just one little deal, and all your problems will be solved. You deserve a break; you’ve suffered enough. Now it’s your turn to make it.” But don’t be deceived: Every compromise you make in your walk with Jesus is the same as “going out” to the devil. When you sell short your relationship to Jesus, you are cutting a deal, making a bargain – and you are selling your soul in the process.

Satan promises, “You can take God with you when you go with me. You will have to make some changes – but you will still be you. It won’t hurt anything. You can have it all – Jesus and a deal!”

Be warned: If you buy into this lie you will be the devil’s slave from that point on. There is no land of wine and oil or paradise as he promised. The minute you come out to him, he will slap chains around your neck and hands and lead you off to Babylon. You will never get what you thought you would get. Instead, you will get the whip and chain, broken promises and despair. You will get a taskmaster for a father. The satisfying water he promised you is actually poisoned. No, you won’t have freedom. Instead, you will live under complete bondage, a slave to Satan’s whims.

Finally, as a last resort, Satan will send you a threatening letter: Have you received your own letter from the devil? Those divorce papers you received may have been Satan’s way of saying to you, “Read it, you failure! What good does it do to serve God and deny yourself? It didn’t save your marriage. It’s all your fault. It could have been avoided. Phony! Failure! Give it all up!”

That retrenchment letter on the job may also carry the devil’s voice. “So that’s what you get when you follow Jesus, huh? A swift kick? Nobody wants you. You’re too old, too much of a has-been. You’re going down, you’ll lose everything. You won’t have any rent money or be able to care for your family. You’re finished!”

Or what about that X-ray? There it is in black and white: You have a terminal disease: AIDS! Cancer! Lupus! It’s hopeless. And Satan says, “So you believe Jesus heals, do you? Well, where is He now? Why do you still have to suffer? You gave Him everything, and look what happened. He gave you nothing but continued suffering in return.”

So what do you do when you are confronted with a message from the devil? Pray and seek the Lord. Don’t ever talk or reason with the devil. Simply hold your peace.

You see, God’s response to the devil’s letter is to read it and laugh! God takes your letter personally. He said, “Devil, you didn’t send that letter to My child. You sent it to Me!” He who touches you touches the apple of God’s eye. God says His loved ones are safe and that the devil cannot harm them. Remember: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Psalm 34:7, KJV).

No matter how many demons invade, no matter how fiercely the kingdom of darkness threatens, God’s people are safe. Let it sink deep into your heart of hearts: You are safe. The Lord is set to defend and deliver you.

THE LORD SENDS HIS OWN LETTER TO THE DEVIL

The Lord has written His own letter to the devil in Psalm 46. It is your answer to the devil in all his attacks. It reads as follows:

“God is a very present help in trouble” (verse 1, KJV here and throughout). Our God is present now. He is our help not just in ages past but a very present help now, today – in the midst of any and all troubles.

“Therefore [we] will not fear” (verse 2). We have no need to fear. Our God is a consuming fire, a defender and shield for His children. Second Timothy 1:7 tells us, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” He is altogether faithful and true to His Word.

“God is in the midst” of this temple, I cannot be moved (verse 5). My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit – and He says He is in the midst of that temple. Christ Himself makes His abode, His dwelling place, within my heart. And I cannot be moved or shaken! “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved” (verse 6). Let the heathen rage, let all the kingdoms of the earth be shaken and moved. Our God will completely destroy all demonic attackers.

“He maketh wars to cease … he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear … he burneth the chariot in the fire” (verse 9). He is my army against my enemies, against those who make war against me. And He Himself will completely annihilate all the devil’s weapons arrayed against me: “No weapon that is formed against [the servants of the Lord] shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (verse 10). I will be still and rest completely in the knowledge that He is God. He is my God, my Redeemer, my Defender-the sovereign Lord over all my affairs. I am safe, surrounded by His presence in the pavilion of His love. And I will stand firm and behold His majesty and glory!”

Dear saint, God provides this letter for all of Satan’s attacks on your faith. Read it, meditate on it -believe it. It is heaven’s answer to your letter from the devil.

(Main Source: David Wilkerson – Hungry For More Jesus)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

DELAYED PRAYERS

godseemsslient

Most of us pray as David did: “In the day that I call, answer me speedily” (Psalm 102:2). “1 am in trouble; hear me speedily” (Psalm 69:17). The Hebrew word for speedily means “right now, hurry up, in the very hour I call on You, do it!” David was saying, “Lord, I put my trust in You-but please hurry!”

God is in no hurry. He doesn’t jump at our commands. In fact, at times you may wonder if He will ever answer. You cry out, weep, fast and hope-but days go by, weeks, months, even years, and you don’t receive even the slightest evidence that God is hearing you. First you question yourself: “Something must be blocking my prayers, some hidden sin. Maybe I asked amiss. Or perhaps my faith is too weak.” You become perplexed, and over time your attitude toward God becomes something like this: “Lord, what do I have to do to get this prayer answered? You promised in Your Word to give me an answer, and I prayed in faith. How many tears must I shed?”

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It certainly isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely wink an eye or think a thought and His work would be finished. And He is most willing -even more than we are-for us to receive from Him. No, the answer is found rather in this verse: “He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The Greek word for lose heart, or faint in the King James Version, means “relax, become weak or weary in faith, give up the struggle, no longer wait for completion.” Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” The Lord is seeking for a praying people who will not relax or grow weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on the Lord, not giving up before His work is completed. And they will be found waiting when He brings the answer.

I thought I had unshakable faith, that I fully trusted in the Lord. Then some of my very important prayers were not answered for a long time; in fact, some still are not answered. I reasoned with the Lord, “If You will just answer my prayers, it will build up my faith. I can go to the sanctuary and boast of Your faithfulness the way David did. Think of how others will be greatly encouraged.” But the whole time the Lord was saying to me, I don’t build your faith on My answers-I build your faith on My delays!

Anybody can believe when the answers to prayer are flooding in. But who’s going to believe after a year or two years? As time goes on, we abandon our prayers and the belief that He will answer, and we move on to something else.

We say to God, “I’ll be faithful to You. But don’t expect me to have faith to wait for answers to prayers anymore.” In reality, God wants only to make sure you’re not going to relax in your prayer vigil. He wants your heart set on persevering, no matter how long His answer takes.

Jesus gave us a parable to prove that He waits on us to dig in and determine not to give up. It is the parable of the distressed widow who kept coming to the judge seeking justice (see Luke 18:2-8). The judge finally granted her request only because he was worn down by her constant pleading: “Because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me” (verse 5). Jesus added to this parable, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily” (verses 7-8).

You say, “But doesn’t Jesus seem to be speaking a paradox in this verse? First He says God `bears long’ with us-then He says He `will avenge us speedily.’ ” Most of us misinterpret this passage completely. You see, Jesus isn’t speaking of delaying a long time. He says God wants to answer us speedily but is enduring something. God is bearing something that calls for patience on His part. He’s saying, I’ll put up with this thing I see in your heart-I’ll bear with you-until you’re willing to lay hold of Me for the answer as I desire you should.

As I look back at some of the things I’ve prayed for over a long period, I hear the Lord saying, I’m holding up this request to you, like a mirror. And through this, I’m going to show you what’s deep in your heart. What I’ve seen reflected in that mirror are doubt … fear … unbelief … things that have made me throw myself at Jesus’ feet and cry, “0 Lord! I’m not interested in the answer anymore, but only in getting this spirit out of me. I don’t want to doubt You-to pray and weep for an answer, yet still have seeds of unbelief in my heart!”

It’s true that the hardest part of faith is the last half hour. When it looks as if God won’t answer, we give up, putting all behind us and going on to something else. And as we do this, we think we are surrendering to God’s providence, His sovereign will. We say, “Lord, do what You think is best,” or, “Well, God, You must not have wanted it after all.” That is not what God ever intended! When we pray for what is obviously the will of God-salvation of a family member, for instance-we have every right to hold on and never give up until Jesus answers.

We have every reason not to listen to the devil. And we have every right to ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in us and not let us relax until we see completion.

Too often, instead, we faint-we fail the test. If we hadn’t fainted, we would still be holding on more determined than ever to see the answer through. Yet the Lord sees our fainting heart all along. In fact, He gives us a picture of this humbling experience in 2 Kings 6-7.

Samaria was under seige by Ben-Hadad and his great Syrian army. The city was starving: A donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, a pint of dove’s dung for five. The prophet Elisha had prophesied to the king of Samaria that God was going to deliver the people supernaturally. He said to hold on-to wait, pray, repent and trust God no matter how bad things got.

As the king paced atop the city walls, he may have thought, “How long must this go on? We can’t hold out much longer. If God doesn’t answer soon, we’ll have to go out with the white flag and surrender.” Then a woman saw the king and cried out, “Yesterday my neighbor and I boiled and ate my baby. We agreed that today we would eat her baby, but now she has hidden her child. King, it’s unfair-make her give up her baby, too!”

That did it! The king ripped open his sackcloth, and in a rage he bellowed, “Elisha, off comes your head! You had us believing that God would answer your prayer. You told us a miracle would happen.” When the king found Elisha praying among the elders, he screamed, “Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” In other words, “It’s too late! The deadline has come and gone and God didn’t keep His word. Prayer isn’t going to help. It’s time to take matters into our own hands!”

While the king was fainting-quitting on his faith-the answer was almost at the gate. Elisha told him, “Tomorrow about this time a seah [about eight gallons] of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). It’s too bad the king hadn’t waited another 24 hours before blowing up. He didn’t know that God was at work creating a miracle. In the Syrian camp, a miraculous buzzing filled the air-the sound of a huge army of chariots rumbling toward them. Panic swept over the Syrians, and they dropped everything and ran for their lives. So the Samarians brought home wagonloads of the Syrians’ food. Vegetables, fine flour and barrels of barley poured through the city gates. Watching this, the king must have been red-faced as he recalled stating, “God didn’t keep His word!”

This kind of thing must have happened to me at least a dozen times. I’ve given up and said, “Oh, well, this must not have been God’s will. It’s an impossible situation.” And sometimes the answer came within an hour of my words! Is that what’s happening with you? Have you given up and stopped pressing in? You must recognize that God is already at work, and His answer is just about to arrive. It is when we wait in faith and see it through that we grow in faith and bring greater glory to His name.

(Source: David Wilkerson – Hungry For More Jesus)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (25)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER VII

The Period of the Perean Ministry (Part 1)

RESUME

As stated earlier, it is not possible to fit all of the events of Christ’s ministry into a perfect chronological order. Some writers end the Period of Retirement with Mark 9:50, and insert next a Judean Ministry beginning at Mk. 10:1 taking in the trip from Galilee to Jerusalem and continuing through the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of Dedication in John 10. Because the events at these two feasts are recorded only in John it is uncertain exactly where they fit into the Synoptic record. We are beginning the Perean Period with Christ’s final departure from Galilee and ending in His last appearance in Jerusalem. As will be seen the greater part of this period is covered only by Luke. Of the 43 topics in this section, only 9 are common to the Synoptics – 5 are found only in John, and 28 only in Luke.

Perea is not a scriptural name. It is the name used by Josephus to describe the district which the rabbis habitually referred to as “the land beyond Jordan,” which in the Greek is “peran tou Iordanou” (Matt. 4:15; 19:1). It was bounded by Pella in the north to Machaerus in the south and extended from the Jordan river on the west to the desert on the east. Perea was considered as a part of the land of Israel, along with Judea and Galilee and was under the same religious and political laws.

The Final Departure From Galilee

References: Matt. 19:1,2 cf. 8:18-22; Mk. 10:1; Lk. 9:51-62

Much of our Lord’s ministry was in Galilee, but now He is leaving Galilee behind and heading for the eventualities which will transpire in Jerusalem, although there still remains several months of ministry beyond Jordan. The chronology of this section is uncertain. Luke states that when the time had come for Him to be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. But following this is the account of certain men who would follow Jesus, but only after they had taken care of other business. This same account is found in Matt. 8, which means that the passage is out of chronological order in either Matthew or Luke, or the same situation happened on two different occasions.

The Lord never made it easy to be a disciple. He reminded these men that even the animals have a place they can call home, but He didn’t own so much as a place to lay His head. We are not told whether the man changed his mind about following Jesus when he learned that. Then Jesus said to another, “Follow me,” but he asked for permission to wait until his father died and was buried, but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.” This sounds strange, for how could a dead person bury another dead person? Undoubtedly Jesus used “dead” in two different senses. The unsaved are spiritually dead. There are many jobs they can do as well or better than a saved person. The saved person should be sure he is doing God’s work first of all. Another man wanted to wait until he went back home and bid farewell to his friends and family. Many a person has thought of serving Christ, but after consulting with friends and relatives has been dissuaded. It is man’s nature either to be too forward (vs. 57), or too backward (vs. 59), or too undecided (vs. 61).

The Samaritans had no dealings with the Jews (John 4:9), so when Jesus sent His disciples to find lodging in the Samaritan village, they would not receive Him because He was going toward Jerusalem. James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven, and while the fire will fail some day, it was then the day of salvation and not of judgment.

1.     The Mission of the Seventy

Reference: Lk. 10:1-24

Jesus appointed these seventy disciples to go ahead of Him in pairs into every city and village He was going to visit to prepare the way for His coming. Just as the number twelve is significant in connection with Israel, so is the number seventy. Beginning with Jacob, there were seventy souls. that came forth out of his loins (Ex. 1:5). There were seventy elders in Israel (Ex. 24:1,9; Num. 11:16). Israel’s period of captivity in Babylon lasted seventy years (Jer. 25:11). Daniel prophesied that seventy weeks (of years) had been determined upon Israel (9:24 cf. vs. 2). And the ruling body in Israel, the Sanhedrin, was composed of seventy men. The Septuagint was supposedly translated by seventy scholars.

The commission of the seventy disciples was very similar to that of the Twelve, given in Matt. 10. They were to take no supplies with them; they were not to pass the time of day with people on their journey; they were to be entertained at a home that would receive them, and if no one received them they were to wipe the dust off their feet as a gesture of shame against that city and tell them to be sure of the fact that the Kingdom of God had come near unto them. Then Jesus berated the cities in which He had done His mightiest works, stating that they would suffer a sorer judgment than such wicked cities as Tyre and Sidon.

When the Seventy had finished their mission and had returned they were very happy, for they said that even the demons were subject to them through the name of Jesus. Jesus replied: “I was beholding (imperfect) Satan as lightning having fallen (aorist) from heaven.” This may refer to Satan’s original fall, but more likely to what had just been transpiring. While the Seventy were getting the victory over the servants of Satan, Christ was beholding Satan fall as a dazzling flash of light which was quickly extinguished. The divine protection against serpents and scorpions is similar to that given to the Apostles in the commission of Mk. 16:17,18. However, their greater cause of rejoicing was that their names were written in heaven. The disciples were honored above many kings and prophets who never had the privilege of seeing and hearing the things they were experiencing.

2.     The Good Samaritan

Reference: Lk. 10:25-37

The expressed purpose of this parable was to answer the question of the lawyer: “Who is my neighbor?,” and this should be the primary interpretation. The lawyer, one versed in the Mosaic law, was tempting Jesus, that is, trying to trip Him up. As usual, Jesus made His questioner answer his own question. It was most difficult for the Jewish lawyer to admit that a despised Samaritan was a better neighbor than a priest or Levite of the Jews, but that is what he had to admit and that is the primary teaching of the parable.

However, the parable has many applications, and Christians generally make only applications and never use it to teach the human relationship of neighborliness.

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem knows that one literally goes down from Jerusalem, 2500 feet above sea level, to Jericho, 825 feet below sea level. The usual application of the parable makes the certain man who thus went down to represent Adam’s fall.

He was robbed of his innocence and righteousness, mortally wounded and left to die. The priest and the Levite who happened along, when they saw the dying man, passed by on the other side of the road. They represent the Law. The Law cannot forgive, or restore life; it can only condemn and put to death. That is the clear teaching of Paul’s epistles, especially Romans and Galatians.

But then a certain Samaritan came along, and came to where the dying man was, had compassion on him, treated his wounds and bandaged them, put him on his own beast of burden and brought him to the inn and took care of him. And when he left the next day, he gave the host money and promised upon his return to pay the entire bill for caring for this robbed and wounded man, who had no money to pay his own debts, and had no strength to take care of himself.

And in the application, Jesus, of course, is the good Samaritan. In fact, shortly before this incident the Jews had said: “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast a demon?” (John 8:48). Jesus is the only man who ever loved God with all His heart and His neighbor as Himself. He is the only good, really good, neighbor this world has ever had.

3.     The Visit to Martha and Mary

Reference: Lk. 10:38-42

We often hear of women’s societies in churches which call themselves the Martha Society, but seldom do we hear of a Mary Society, and yet Mary was the one who chose the better part. The inference might be made that Mary was an impractical kind who shirked her household duties; however, the text proves just the opposite. When Martha said: “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone,” the verb, “hath left,” is in the aorist tense. “She did leave,” indicates that she had been helping until Jesus appeared. The text makes it plain that the house belonged to Martha and she was the one who invited and received Jesus under her roof and was responsible for providing the hospitality. We dare not condemn Martha for what she was doing, for she was doing her best to entertain Jesus in her home, and we can think of many things worse than that. But Martha did not have the spiritual discernment possessed by Mary. She was interested only in providing the outward, physical things for the enjoyment of her Guest, but Mary realized that the Guest had spiritual blessings to bestow, and so took time off from the physical preparations to become spiritually prepared.

The word “cumbered” is an interesting word. This word appears only twice in our A.V., here and in Lk. 13:7; however, they are entirely different words in the Greek. Here the verb means to be distracted. She was distracted from the person of Jesus by the many little chores which needed to be done.

The word “help” is also an unusual word. It is a compound of three words: “to take hold,” “together with,” “reciprocally,” so that Martha said: “Bid her therefore that she take hold and do her part together with me.” This word occurs only one other time, in Rom. 8:26, where we are told that the Spirit “helpeth” our infirmities; that is, the indwelling Holy Spirit takes hold of the heavy end of the load we are called upon to bear and thus helps us in our weakness.

4.     Healing of Man Born Blind

Reference: John 9:1-41

Here we would point out a few principles involved. The first is what we might call the mediate and the immediate cause of disease. Disease is the result of sin, and so naturally the disciples asked: “Who committed the sin which caused this man to be born blind, the man himself or his parents?” In saying that neither this man nor his parents sinned, Jesus did not mean that they had never committed sin, but that it was not their sin which caused the blindness. A man may commit a sin which is the immediate cause of disease, or it may be some defect which he has inherited mediately through his forebears. Ultimately all the sin and disease in the world came in a mediate way from Adam. But in this case Jesus said the man had been born blind that the works of God might be manifested in him. How little did he or his parents have any such concept until the day that Jesus worked this great miracle, for there was no case on record of the restoration of sight to a man born blind. There are doubtless cases today where God has permitted one to be diseased for this very same purpose, that God might do some work through him to bring glory to God, but apart from revelation it would be mere speculation to make such judgments today.

Actually this man was not the only blind person involved. The Jewish rulers in their hatred of Jesus were spiritually blind. They closed their eyes to every bit of evidence: refused to believe the man had been blind until his parents testified he was their son and although they didn’t know how he had received his sight they knew he had been blind from birth. Faced with this evidence they went back to the man and tried to make him confess that Jesus was a sinner. They accused him of being a disciple of this sinner Jesus, but claimed they were Moses’ disciples, and knew not where this Jesus came from. The man marvelled at the ignorance of the rulers: here is a Man restoring sight to the blind and the rulers don’t even know anything about Him. This answer enraged the rulers: “Are you who were born in sin trying to teach us?” And they cast him out.

Up to this point the only thing the man knew for certain was that whereas he was blind, now he could see. When Jesus had heard what the leaders had done, He found the man and asked if he believed on the Son of God, and he replied: “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe?” And Jesus revealed Himself to the man as the Son of God and he believed and worshipped Him. It has often been pointed out that if Jesus accepted the worship of man, and Jesus was not truly God manifested in the flesh, He was guilty of blasphemy and was the greatest imposter the world has ever seen.

In conclusion Jesus told the Pharisees, “For judgment I am come into the world.” He did not mean that He had come to judge the world, for He explicitly stated: “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). The original meaning of judgment was separation, such as dividing the sheep from the goats at the judgment of the nations. Thus, His coming into the world resulted in a judgment, a separation between those who believed on Him and those that rejected Him. Phillips catches the idea in his paraphrase: “My coming into this world is itself a judgment – those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind.” Some of the Pharisees overheard this and said: “So we’re blind too, are we?” “If you were blind,” returned Jesus, “nobody could blame you, but as you insist, ‘We can see,’ your guilt remains.”

5.     The Good Shepherd

Reference: John 10:1-21

The first five verses of this chapter constitute a parable, but the disciples did not understand what Jesus meant by the parable. In the verses that follow Jesus applies the parable to Himself as the Shepherd who enters in by the door, in contrast to all who came before Him, who climbed in by some other way and were thieves and robbers. Actually the expression “some other way” (vs. 1), means from some other quarter. It is a matter of origin. Christ had been insisting previously that He came from above, from heaven. The others had their origin from a different quarter: they were from the world. Christ is the door for the sheep. It is said that the shepherd, after bringing his flock into the fold, lies down at the entrance, so that any intruder would have to come in contact with him before getting at the sheep. He is thus both shepherd and door. The shepherd’s job is to lead his sheep in and out for pasture so that they might have abundance of life, as well as to protect them from danger. All of this is in contrast to the hirelings, the rulers or shepherds in Israel. Read the entire 34th chapter of Ezekiel for God’s appraisal of these false shepherds, and for God’s plan for the restoration of His flock and fold.

The interpretation of this portion belongs to Israel, as is evident from both the 34th and the 37th chapters of Ezekiel. The traditional interpretation makes the other sheep of vs. 16 to be the Gentiles, which are to be incorporated with Israel into the Church. This mistake has been partly due to a failure to recognize Old Testament prophecy and partly to the inaccurate rendering both in the Vulgate and the A.V. of the words for flock and fold. These two translations ignore the differences between these two words.

The A.V. entirely ignores the distinction between aule, fold, and poimne, flock. The latter word is found in Matt. xxvi. 31; Lk. ii. 8; 1 Cor. ix. 7, and always distinctly meaning a flock, as does also the diminutive poimnion, little flock (Lk. xii. 32; I Pet. v. 2, etc.). Render as Rev., one flock, one shepherd. So Tynd. Compare Ezek. xxxiv. 23. We are not, however, to say with Trench (‘Authorized Version of the New Testament’), that the Jew and the Gentile are the two folds which Christ will gather into a single flock. The heathen are not conceived as a fold but as a dispersion. ‘Nothing is said of one fold under the new dispensation’ (Wescott). It will readily be seen that the incorrect rendering fostered by the carelessness or the mistake of some of the Western fathers, and. by the Vulgate, which renders both words by ovile, fold, has been in the interest of Romish claims.28

Thus, vs. 16 should read: “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold (aules): them also I must lead out, and they shall become one flock (poimne), and one shepherd.”

The Gentiles are nowhere in Scripture represented as being a sheep fold. Instead, it is evident from Ezek. 37 in the sign of the two sticks, that Israel’s one fold became divided into two folds when the northern ten tribes split off from the southern two tribes and became two nations. The prophet was told to take two sticks and write the name of Judah on one and Ephraim on the other, and then to join the two sticks together into one stick. This was a sign of what God was going to do:

Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel: and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all;… And David my servant shall be king over them, and they shall have one shepherd…and the heathen (Gentiles) shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore (Ezek. 37:21,22,24,28).

Here the one shepherd is over the two folds of Israel which have been united into one flock in contrast to the Gentiles. By refusing to interpret literally the Old Testament prophecies and by refusing to recognize the mystery character of the Body of Christ which had not been revealed while Christ was on earth, traditional theologians have applied this passage in John to the Gentiles of the present era. The great blunder of the Church has ever been to identify itself with Israel, appropriating to itself the Israel promises, and leaving only the curses to the Israel to whom the promises were made.

While it is true that Jesus is Israel’s Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, we know that at the same time God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Here we need to distinguish between the dispensational and the doctrinal aspects of Christ’s life and ministry.

In laying down His life, Christ made it plain that no man could take His life from Him. He had the power to lay it down and to take it again. This is another evidence of His Deity. The truth of John 9:39 is seen again, in that His words caused a division among the Jews, some claiming He was demon possessed and others asking if a demon could open the eyes of one born blind.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

DISPENSATIONALISM IN A NUTSHELL (DR CHARLES RYRIE)

dispensationalism

Many evangelicals and liberals believe that dispensationalism is either downright heresy or close to it. Some speak harshly against dispensationalism and warn that it is unscriptural and that no biblically responsible Christian should be involved in such heresy. For many, dispensationalism is a Christian cuss word!

A CLUSTER OF ITEMS

Actually, dispensationalism is a cluster of items joined together to form a system of thought. Just as terms like Calvinism, Arminianism, Anglicanism, Catholicism, or Lutheranism are historical labels that represent, not a single idea, but a group of items joined together to form a multifaceted scheme, so is dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a term that arose in church history to label certain Christians who believe a group of certain things that are taught in the Bible.

Dispensationalists are those who believe the following things:

  • The Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant (i.e., without any errors) revelation to man. Scripture provides the framework through which to interpret history (past and future). God’s written Word tells us of His plan for His creation and this will surely come to past.
  • Since the Bible is God’s literal Word of His plan for history, it should be interpreted literally and historically (past and future).
  • Since the Bible reveals God’s plan for history, then it follows that there is an ebb and flow to His plan. Therefore, God’s plan includes different dispensations, ages, or epochs of history through which His creatures (man and angels) are tested. Therefore, God is instructing His creatures through the progress of history, as His creation progresses from a garden to a city.
  • Since all humanity fell into sin, each person must individually receive God’s provision of salvation through the death of Christ by believing the gospel. Thus, Jesus Christ is the only way to a relationship with God.
  • Because of mankind’s fall into sin, Scripture teaches that all humanity is naturally rebellious to God and the things of God. This is why only genuine believers in Christ are open to the teachings of the Bible. Thus, salvation through Christ is a prerequisite to properly understanding God’s Word.
  • God’s plan for history includes a purpose for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that is Israel. This plan for Israel includes promises that they will have the land of Israel, will have a seed, and will be a worldwide blessing to the nations. Many of the promises to national Israel are yet future, therefore, God is not finished with Israel.
  • God’s plan from all eternity also includes a purpose for the church, however, this is a temporary phase that will end with the rapture. After the rapture, God will complete His plan for Israel and the Gentiles.
  • The main purpose in God’s master plan for history is to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the goal and hero of history.

In a nutshell, Christians who believe like this are known throughout Christendom as dispensationalists. We believe that it is the same as saying that I believe what the Bible literally teaches. Millions of Christians throughout the world are dispensationalists. In fact, the word “dispensation” occurs four times in the King James Version of the Bible (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25).

A DEFINITION OF DISPENSATIONALISM

Most likely, the leading spokesman for dispensationalism is retired Dallas Theological Seminary professor, Dr. Charles Ryrie. Many know Ryrie through his books and articles, but he is best known for his popular Ryrie Study Bible. Ryrie’s book, Dispensationalism, and some additional items are the reference point to look for an understanding of dispensationalism.

Since Dr. Ryrie is the expert on this subject, we will let him speak as we summarize his material.

He notes that The Oxford English Dictionary defines a theological dispensation as “a stage in a progressive revelation, expressly adapted to the needs of a particular nation or period of time . . . also, the age or period during which a system has prevailed.” The English word “dispensation” translates the Greek noun oikonomía, often rendered “administration” in modern translations. The verb oikonoméô refers to a manager of a household. “In the New Testament,” notes Ryrie, “dispensation means to manage or administer the affairs of a household, as, for example, in the Lord’s story of the unfaithful steward in Luke 16:1-13.”

Scriptural Use of Dispensation

The Greek word oikonomía is a compound of oíkos meaning “house” and nómos meaning “law.” Taken together “the central idea in the word dispensation is that of managing or administering the affairs of a household.”

The various forms of the word dispensation appears in the New Testament twenty times. The verb oikonoméô is used once in Luke 16:2, where it is translated “to be a steward.” The noun oikonómos appears ten times (Luke 12:42; 16:1, 3, 8; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 4:1, 2; Gal. 4:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10), and is usually translated “steward” or “manager” (but “treasurer” in Rom. 16:23). The noun oikonomía is used nine times (Luke 16:2, 3, 4; 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2, 9; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4). In these instances it is translated variously (“stewardship,” “dispensation,” “administration,” “job,” “commission”).

Features of Dispensationalism

Examination of oikonómos in the Gospels finds Christ using the word in two parables in Luke (Lk. 12:42; 16:1, 3, 8). Ryrie notes that in Luke 16 we find “some important characteristics of a stewardship, or dispensational arrangement.” The characteristics are:

(1) Basically there are two parties: the one whose authority it is to delegate duties, and the one whose responsibility it is to carry out these charges. The rich man (or master) and the steward (or manager) play these roles in the parable of Luke 16 (v. 1).

(2) These are specific responsibilities. In the parable the steward failed in his known duties when he wasted the goods of his lord (v. 1).

(3) Accountability, as well as responsibility, is part of the arrangement. A steward may be called to account for the discharge of his stewardship at any time, for it is the owner’s or master’s prerogative to expect faithful obedience to the duties entrusted to the steward (v. 2).

(4) A change may be made at any time unfaithfulness is found in the existing administration (“can no longer be steward.”).

Further features can be gleaned in the other occurrences of the “dispensation” word group.

All other uses, except 1 Peter 4:10, are found in the writings of Paul. Ryrie cites the following features:

(1) God is the one to whom men are responsible in the discharge of their stewardship obligations. In three instances this relationship to God is mentioned by Paul (I Cor. 4:1-2; Titus 1:7).

(2) Faithfulness is required of those to whom a dispensational responsibility is committed (I Cor. 4:2). This is illustrated by Erastus, who held the important position of treasurer (steward) of the city (Rom. 16:23).

(3) A stewardship may end at an appointed time (Gal. 4:2). In this reference the end of the stewardship came because of a different purpose being introduced. This reference also shows that a dispensation is connected with time.

(4) Dispensations are connected with the mysteries of God, that is, with specific revelation from God (I Cor. 4:1; Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25).

(5) Dispensation and age are connected ideas, but the words are not exactly interchangeable. For instance, Paul declares that the revelation of the present dispensation was hidden “for ages” meaning simply a long period of time (Eph. 3:9). The same thing is said in Colossians 1:26. However, since a dispensation operates within a time period, the concepts are related.

(6) At least three dispensations (as commonly understood in dispensational teaching) are mentioned by Paul. In Ephesians 1:10 he writes of “an administration [dispensation, KJV] suitable to the fullness of the times,” which is a future period. In Ephesians 3:2 he designates the “stewardship [dispensation, KJV] of God’s grace,” which was the emphasis of the content of his preaching at that time. In Colossians 1:25-26 it is implied that another dispensation preceded the present one, in which the mystery of Christ in the believer is revealed.

It should be noted that dispensationalists have developed the theological term “dispensation” in a way similar to the biblical use of the term. Therefore, we believe that the system of theology we know today as dispensationalism is consistent with biblical teaching.

Definitions

Building upon the above biblical observations, we are now able to define dispensationalism. According to Ryrie, “a dispensation is a distinguishable economy in the outworking of God’s purpose.” In addition to a definition of a dispensation, Ryrie notes that if “one were describing a dispensation, he would include other things, such as the ideas of distinctive revelation, testing, failure, and judgment.” The overall combined purpose of the whole program is the glory of God.

In his classic work, Dispensationalism, Ryrie formulates the following extensive definition of dispensationalism:

Dispensationalism views the world as a household run by God. In this household world God is dispensing or administering its affairs according to His own will and in various stages of revelation in the process of time. These various stages mark off the distinguishably different economies in the outworking of His total purpose, and these different economies constitute the dispensations. The understanding of God’s differing economies is essential to a proper interpretation of His revelation within those various economies.

Another dispensational scholar, Paul Nevin, summarized dispensationalism as follows:

God’s distinctive method of governing mankind or a group of men during a period of human history, marked by a crucial event, test, failure, and judgment. From the divine standpoint, it is an economy, or administration. From the human standpoint, it is a stewardship, a rule of life, or a responsibility for managing God’s affairs in His house. From the historical standpoint, it is a stage in the progress of revelation.

Dispensationalist, Renald Showers, emphasizing a dispensational view of history, gives the following definition:

Dispensational Theology can be defined very simply as a system of theology which attempts to develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of the sovereign rule of God. It represents the whole of Scripture and history as being covered by several dispensations of God’s rule.

. . . the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose for world history.

ESSENTIALS OF DISPENSATIONALISM

Who is a dispensationalist? Essentials are needed by which to gauge a theology. What are the essentials that characterize a dispensationalist? Ryrie has stated what he calls the three essentials or sine qua non (Latin, “that without which”) of dispensationalism.

The essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the church. This grows out of the dispensationalist’s consistent employment of normal or plain or historical-grammatical interpretation, and it reflects an understanding of the basic purpose of God in all His dealings with mankind as that of glorifying Himself through salvation and other purposes as well.

The three essentials are not a definition or description of dispensationalism, instead they are basic theological tests which can be applied to an individual to see whether or not he is a dispensationalist.

First Essential: Literal Interpretation

Ryrie’s first essential of dispensationalism is not just literal interpretation, but more fully, a consistent literal hermeneutic. “The word literal is perhaps not so good as either the word normal or plain,” explains Ryrie, “but in any case it is interpretation that does not spiritualize or allegorize as non-dispensational interpretation does.” Literal interpretation is foundational to the dispensational approach to Scripture. Literal interpretation is foundational to the dispensational approach to Scripture. Earl Radmacher went so far as to say that literal interpretation “is the ‘bottom-line’ of dispensationalism.”

The dictionary defines literal as “belonging to letters.” It also says literal interpretation involves an approach “based on the actual words in their ordinary meaning, . . . not going beyond the facts.” “Literal interpretation of the Bible simply means to explain the original sense of the Bible according to the normal and customary usages of its language.” How is this done? It can only be accomplished through the grammatical (according to the rules of grammar), historical (consistent with the historical setting of the passage), contextual (in accord with its context) method of interpretation. Literalism looks to the text, the actual words and phrases of a passage.

Non-literal interpretation imports an idea not found specifically in the text of a passage. To some degree, all Bible interpreters interpret literally. However, dispensationalists consistently handle the text literally from Genesis to Revelation.

Literal interpretation recognizes that a word or phrase can be used plainly (denotative) or figuratively (connotative). In modern speech, as in the Bible, we talk plainly–”Grandmother died” (denotative), or more colorfully, “Grandmother kicked the bucket” (connotative). An important point to make is that even though we may use a figure of speech to refer to death, we are using that figure in reference to an event that literally happened. Ryrie says:

Symbols, figures of speech and types are all interpreted plainly in this method and they are in no way contrary to literal interpretation. After all, the very existence of any meaning for a figure of speech depends on the reality of the literal meaning of the terms involved. Figures often make the meaning plainer, but it is the literal, normal, or plain meaning that they convey to the reader.

Some are mistaken to think that just because a figure of speech is used to describe an event (i.e., Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish in Jonah 2), that the event was not literal.

Such is not the case. A “Golden Rule of Interpretation” has been developed to help discern whether or not a figure of speech is intended.

When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.

E.E. Johnson (Dallas Seminary) notes that much of the confusion over literalism is removed when understanding the two ways it is used: “(1) the clear, plain sense of a word or phrase as over against a figurative use, and (2) a system that views the text as providing the basis of the true interpretation.” Thus, dispensationalists, by and large, use “literal” to refer to their system of interpretation (the consistent use of the grammatical-historical system), and once inside that system, literal refers to whether a specific word or phrase is used in its context figuratively or literally.

Johnson’s second use of literal (i.e., systematic literalism) is simply the grammatical historical system consistently used. The grammatical-historical system was revived by many Reformers and was set against the spiritual (spiritualized) or deeper meaning of the text common in the middle ages. The literal meaning was used simply as a springboard to a deeper (“spiritual”) meaning, which was viewed as more desirable.

A classic spiritualized interpretation would see the four rivers of Genesis 2–the Pishon, Havilah, Tigris and Euphrates–as representing the body, soul, spirit and mind. Coming from such a system, many Reformers saw the need to get back to the literal or textual meaning of the Bible.

The system of literal interpretation is the grammatical-historical or textual approach to hermeneutics. Use of literalism in this sense could be called “macro-literalism.” Within macro-literalism, the consistent use of the grammatical-historical system yields the interpretative conclusion, for example, that Israel always and only refers to national Israel. The church will not be substituted for Israel if the grammatical-historical system is consistently used, because there are no textual indicators that such is the case. One must import an idea from outside the text by saying that the passage really means something that it does not actually say. This replacement approach is a mild form of spiritual or allegorical interpretation. So, when speaking of those who do replace Israel with the church as not taking the Bible literally and spiritualizing the text, it is true, since such a belief is contrary to a macro-literal interpretation.

Consistently literal interpreters, within the framework of the grammatical-historical system, do discuss whether or not a word, phrase or the literary genre of a biblical book is a figure of speech (connotative) or is to be taken literally/plainly (denotative). This is Johnson’s first use of literal which could be called “micro-literalism.”

Within micro-literalism, there may be discussion by literalists as to whether or not a given word or phrase is being used in a literal or figurative way within a given passage. Some passages are quite naturally clearer than others and a consensus among interpreters develops, while other passages may find literal interpreters divided as to whether or not it should be taken as a figure of speech. This is more a problem of application than of method.

Reconstructionist, Ken Gentry, in his attack on literalism, argues that “consistent literalism is unreasonable.” He attempts to prove his point by arguing that, since dispensationalists take some words and phrases as figures of speech, they are not consistently literal.7 He says “the dispensational claim to ‘consistent literalism’ is frustrating due to its inconsistent employment.” Gentry seeks to discredit the dispensational hermeneutic by citing examples of dispensationalists who interpret certain passages as containing figures of speech, citing this as inconsistent with the system of literal interpretation. According to Gentry, the dispensationalist has to abandon literal interpretation when he realizes that Jesus refers figuratively to Himself as a door in John 10:9.  Gentry is not defining literal interpretation the way dispensationalists do. Therefore, his conclusions about literal interpretation are misguided because he commonly mixes the two senses noted by Johnson. When speaking of the macro-literal, he uses an example from micro-literalism, and vice versa, therefore appearing to have shown an inconsistency in literal interpretation. In reality, his examples fall within the framework of how dispensationalists have defined what they mean by literal interpretation.

This is the first essential of dispensationalism. A way of approaching Scripture that allows the Scripture, through the progress of revelation to interpret itself. It does not approach the Bible through some fantastic interpretational scheme, composed of complex symbolism which reduces Scripture to a mystical code book that requires a special decoding manual in order to figure it out.

The second essential, flows from the first. It is a distinction between Israel and the Church.

Second Essential: Distinction Between Israel and the Church

A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the church distinct,” declares Ryrie. He also notes that anyone “who fails to distinguish Israel and the church consistently will inevitably not hold to dispensational distinctions; and one who does, will.”

What does it mean to keep Israel and the church distinct? Dispensationalists believe the Bible teaches that God’s single program for history includes a distinct plan for Israel and a distinct plan for the church. God’s plan for history has two people: Israel and the church. John Walvoord says that “dispensations are rules of life. They are not ways of salvation. There is only one way of salvation and that is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.”

If the unfulfilled promises given to Israel in the Old Testament literally refer to the Jews, which they do, then it is clear that many are yet unfulfilled. Therefore, it is clear that God’s plan for Israel, who is currently in dispersion (Deut. 4:27-28; 28:63-68; 30:2-4), is on hold until He completes His current purpose with the church, which is to take out from the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14), and Raptures His Bride to heaven. After the Rapture, God will then complete His unfinished business with Israel (Acts 15:16-18) during the seven-year Tribulation period. Thus, if one does not distinguish between passages in which God speaks to Israel from those intended for the church, then the results will be an improper merging of the two programs.

In the Old Testament God made certain promises to Abraham when He pledged to make him the father of a special people. Dispensationalists understand these promises, and other unconditional covenant promises (i.e., treaty grants) made by God to Israel as still in tact for Israel, even though the church currently shares in some of Israel’s spiritual blessings (Rom. 15:27). Ultimately God will not only restore Israel to a place of blessing (Rom. 11), but will also literally fulfill the land and kingdom promises made to Israel in the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3), Land of Israel (Deut. 30:1-10), and Davidic (2 Sam. 7:12-16) Covenants.

In the present time, God has another plan for the church that is distinct from His plan for Israel (Eph. 2-3). Dispensationalists do not believe that the church is the New Israel or has replaced Israel as the heir to the Old Testament promises. Contrary to some who say that the church has superseded Israel, the New Testament nowhere calls the church Israel. Dispensationalist Arnold Fruchtenbaum says:

The conclusion is that the church is never called a “spiritual Israel” or a “new Israel.” The term Israel is either used of the nation or the people as a whole, or of the believing remnant within. It is never used of the church in general or of Gentile believers in particular. In fact, even after the Cross there remains a threefold distinction.

First, there is a distinction between Israel and the Gentiles as in 1 Corinthians 10:32 and Ephesians 2:11-12. Second, there is a distinction between Israel and the church in 1 Corinthians 10:32. Third, there is a distinction between Jewish believers (the Israel of God) and Gentile believers in Romans 9:6 and Galatians 6:16).

Fruchtenbaum gives six reasons why the New Testament keeps Israel and the church distinct. They are:

(1) the church was born at Pentecost, whereas Israel had existed for many centuries.

(2) certain events in the ministry of the Messiah were essential to the establishment of the church—the church does not come into being until certain events have taken place.

(3) the mystery character of the church.

(4) the church is distinct from Israel is the unique relationship between Jews and the Gentiles, called one new man in Ephesians 2:15 .

(5) the distinction between Israel and the church is found in Galatians 6:16 [i.e., “the Israel of God”].

(6) In the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct.

Third Essential: Glory of God is the Purpose of History

The third essential of dispensationalism also revolves around another important distinction. Showers says, this “indispensable factor is the recognition that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the demonstration that He alone is the sovereign God.” Ryrie explains:

We avow that the unifying principle of the Bible is the glory of God and that this is worked out in several ways—the program of redemption, the program for Israel, the punishment of the wicked, the plan for the angels, and the glory of God revealed through nature. We see all these programs as means of glorifying God, and we reject the charge that by distinguishing them (particularly God’s program for Israel from His purpose for the church) we have bifurcated God’s purpose.

This essential is the most misunderstood and often thought to be the least essential. When properly understood, I believe that this is a valid essential. Dispensationalists are not saying that non-dispensationalists do not believe in God’s glory. We are making the point that the dispensationalist understanding of the plan of God means that He is glorified in history by more areas or facets, than those who see mankind’s salvation (probably the most important aspect of God’s plan) as the single area displaying God’s glory.

A BIBLICAL PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY

Showers notes that a dispensational view of the Bible provides a believer with a biblical philosophy of history. This is important for a Christian, because when we understand God’s purpose for each era of history we are able to develop a worldview for living in accordance with God’s will for each dispensation. A believer who has a Divine perspective on the past, present and future is able to know what God expects of him in every area of life in our present day.

In the current church age, the New Testament instructs us in both private and public spheres of life. The dispensationalist, for example, does not live in this age of grace as if he was still under the rule of the Mosaic Law. Instead we understand that we are now under the commands that the New Testament calls the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2).

Current dispensational obligations are combined with responsibilities from previous ages, which continue in our own day, to provide a New Testament believer with a complete biblical framework for understanding how to please God in every area of our current lives.

CONCLUSION

We believe that dispensationalism is a system of theology that has been properly developed from the Bible itself. Dispensationalism is essential to correctly understanding the Bible, especially Bible prophecy. No one will be able to rightly divide God’s Word without understanding these great truths. Instead of being a hindrance to correct understanding of God’s Word, as is regularly claimed by the opponents, dispensationalism is a human label for the correct approach and understanding of Scripture. We plead guilty to the critic’s charge that say we are dispensationalists. We only wish that they would properly come to understand what it is that we believe and quite misrepresenting dispensationalism as often occurs.

In this paper we have provided definitions, descriptions and essentials in an effort to

answer the question: “What is dispensationalism?” Dr. Ryrie concludes:

If one does interpret the Bible this way, will it mean that he cuts out some of its parts? Not at all. Actually, the Bible comes alive as never before. There is no need to dodge the plain meaning of a passage or to reinterpret or spiritualize it in order to resolve conflicts with other passages. God’s commands and standards for me today become even more distinct, and His program with its unfolding splendor falls into a harmonious pattern. The history of dispensationalism is replete with men and women who love the Word of God and promote its study, and who have a burden for spreading the gospel to all the world.

(Source: Thomas D. Ice – May 2009 Liberty University – What is Dispensationalism?)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

THE PEACE THAT SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING

1c6979cba1f3dbaf4782c15717f9934c-300x225

PHILIPPIANS 4:5b-7

RESTING ON A CONFIDENT FAITH IN THE LORD

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, (4:5b–6a)

There is no greater source of spiritual stability than the confidence of knowing that the Lord is near. Engus (near) can mean near in space or near in time. Some take engus in a chronological sense, either as a reference to Christ’s return (3:20–21; James 5:8), or to believers’ death, which ushers them into the Lord’s presence (1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8). While those are comforting truths, it seems that Paul’s emphasis here is on the Lord’s nearness in the sense of His presence. He is near both to hear the cry of the believer’s heart, and to help and strengthen them. In Psalm 73:28 the psalmist declared, “The nearness of God is my good” (cf. Pss. 34:18; 75:1; 119:151; 145:18). Because of God’s nearness, believers should not be fearful, anxious, or wavering. They should not collapse but be strong and stable (Josh. 1:6–9; Pss. 27:14; 125:1).

Unfortunately, when they face trials, believers often seem to forget what they know about God. They lose their confident trust in Him, lose their self-control and spiritual stability, and are defeated. Even strong believers are not immune to an occasional lapse, as an incident from the life of David reveals.

Seeking refuge from Saul’s relentless pursuit, David sought asylum in the Philistine city of Gath. Some of the Philistines recognized him and said to Achish, the king of Gath, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (1 Sam. 21:11). Realizing that his true identity had become known, “David . . . greatly feared Achish king of Gath” (v. 12). Instead of trusting God to deliver him, David panicked and “disguised his sanity before [the Philistines], and acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (v. 13). His act produced the desired results: “Then Achish said to his servants, ‘Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?’” (vv. 14–15). As a result, “David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam” (1 Sam. 22:1). There, with the crisis past, David had time to reflect on how he should have handled the situation in Gath. In Psalm 57, written at that time, he reaffirmed the truths about God that he had temporarily forgotten:

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. (Ps. 57:1–3)

Remembering the character of God restored David’s spiritual stability and his joy, enabling him to declare, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” (Ps. 57:7).

Like David, the prophet Habakkuk faced a crisis. But unlike David, he maintained his spiritual stability. Habakkuk the prophet cried out to God about His apparent indifference to Judah’s apostasy:

How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2–4)

To Habakkuk’s dismay, God answered that things were going to get even worse:

Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs. They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards and keener than wolves in the evening. Their horsemen come galloping, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They collect captives like sand. They mock at kings and rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it. Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god. (Hab. 1:5–11)

Instead of answering Habakkuk’s original question, God’s reply raised a second even more vexing question: How could He use a godless, pagan nation to chasten His people?

Faced with Judah’s apostasy, the impending Chaldean invasion, and his own unanswered questions, Habakkuk reminded himself of what he knew to be true about God: “Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct. Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:12–13). Habakkuk reminded himself of God’s eternity, faithfulness, justice, sovereignty, and holiness.

Despite the trials, doubts, and questions he faced, Habakkuk’s faith and trust in God stood firm. He affirmed the importance of living a life of faith in Habakkuk 2:4: “The righteous will live by his faith.” Both initially in justification, and continually in sanctification, the Christian life is a life of faith in God. As he reminded himself of the greatness of his God, Habakkuk’s faith grew stronger. By the end of his prophecy he was able to sing triumphantly of God’s glorious nature and power,

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. (Hab. 3:17–19)

Habakkuk’s faith in God made him a spiritually stable man—so much so that even if the normal, dependable things in life suddenly collapsed, he would still rejoice in God.

The Lord who is near is the almighty, true, and living God revealed in Scripture. Those who delight themselves in His holy power, love, and wisdom and cultivate a deep knowledge of Him by studying and meditating on His Word will live by the foundation of that truth and be spiritually stable. Because of the presence of God, believers should be anxious for nothing. Nothing is outside of His sovereign control or too difficult for Him to handle. A low view of God leads to a myriad of problems in the church:

Weak, struggling, unstable Christians need to build their strength on the foundation of what the Bible says about God. The result of the church’s failure to equip believers with the knowledge of God’s character and works is a lack of understanding of His nature and purposes, and a subsequent lack of confidence in Him. The shifting sands of shallow or faulty theology provide no stable footing for the believer.

Anxious, fretful, worried, harried believers are inherently unstable and vulnerable to trials and temptations. Anxiety is both a violation of Scripture and totally unnecessary. In a magnificent passage in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pointed out the sinful folly of anxiety:

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:25–34)

REACTING TO PROBLEMS WITH THANKFUL PRAYER

Harmony in the fellowship, joy in the Lord, contentment in circumstances, and confident trust in God are the first steps on the path to spiritual stability.

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (4:6b-7)

Our society admires people who stand firm, hold to their convictions, are courageous and bold, and cannot be bought, intimidated, or defeated. If courage of conviction, integrity, credibility, and an uncompromising devotion to virtue are admirable qualities for people of the world, how much more essential are they for Christians? The very name “Christian” identifies believers with Jesus Christ—the most perfect model of uncompromising, courageous integrity who ever lived. The New Testament repeatedly commands believers to follow Him by standing firm in submission to God (cf. 1:27; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 1:24; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 6:11, 13, 14; 1 Thess. 3:8; 2 Thess. 2:15; Heb. 3:6, 14; 1 Peter 5:9, 12).

Spiritually stable people react to trials with thankful prayer. Such prayer is the antidote to worry and the cure for anxiety. The theology of prayer is not in view here, but rather its priority and the attitude the believer brings to it. The three synonyms used here, prayer, supplication, and requests, all refer to specific, direct offerings of petition to God. The assumption of the text is that believers will cry out to God when they have a need or a problem, not with doubting, questioning, or even blaming God, but with thanksgiving (cf. Col. 4:2). Instead of having a spirit of rebellion against what God allows, believers are to trustingly cast “all [their] anxiety on Him, because He cares for [them]” (1 Peter 5:7).

God’s promises support the wisdom of gratitude. He has promised that no trial believers face will be too difficult for them to handle (1 Cor. 10:13). He has also promised to use everything that happens in believers’ lives for their ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Even suffering leads to their being perfected, confirmed, strengthened, and established (1 Peter 5:10). Believers should also be thankful for God’s power (Ps. 62:11; 1 Peter 1:5; Rev. 4:11), for His promises (Deut. 1:11; 2 Cor. 1:20), for the hope of relief from suffering (2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Peter 5:10), for the hope of glory (Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27), for His mercy (Rom. 15:9), and for His perfecting work in them (Phil. 1:6).

People become worried, anxious, and fearful because they do not trust in God’s wisdom, power, or goodness. They fear that God is not wise enough, strong enough, or good enough to prevent disaster. It may be that this sinful doubt is because their knowledge of Him is faulty, or that sin in their lives has crippled their faith. Thankful prayer brings release from fear and worry, because it affirms God’s sovereign control over every circumstance, and that His purpose is the believer’s good (Rom. 8:28).

Once the sinner has made “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), that is, in salvation having ceased to be God’s enemy and become His child, he can enjoy the peace of God, the inward tranquility of soul granted by God. It is a confident trust in His flawless wisdom and infinite power that provides calm amid the storms of life. Isaiah wrote of this supernatural peace: “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Paul prayed for the Romans that “the God of hope [would] fill [them] with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13). In his high priestly blessing on Israel Aaron said, “The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Num. 6:26). In Psalm 29:11 David wrote, “The Lord will bless His people with peace.” Shortly before His death Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). God’s peace is not for everyone, however; “‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22), neither with God, nor from God.

Paul further defines this supernatural peace as that which surpasses all comprehension. It transcends human intellectual powers, human analysis, human insights, and human understanding. It is superior to human scheming, human devices, and human solutions, since its source is the God whose judgments are unsearchable and whose ways are unfathomable (Rom. 11:33). It is experienced in a transcendent calm that lifts the believer above the most debilitating trial. Since it is a supernatural work, it resists any human comprehension. The real challenge of the Christian life is not to eliminate every unpleasant circumstance; it is to trust in the good purpose of our infinite, holy, sovereign, powerful God in every difficulty. Those who honor Him by trusting Him will experience the blessings of His perfect peace.

When realized in believers’ lives, God’s peace will guard them from anxiety, doubt, and worry. Phroure (will guard) is a military term used of soldiers on guard duty. The picture would have been familiar to the Philippians, since the Romans stationed troops in Philippi to protect their interests in that part of the world. Just as soldiers guard and protect a city, so God’s peace guards and protects believers who confidently trust in Him. Paul’s use of the phrase hearts and minds was not intended to imply a distinction between the two; he was merely making a comprehensive reference to the believer’s inner person. Once again, Paul reminds his readers that true peace is not available through any human source, but only in Christ Jesus.

(Source: John MacArthur – New Testament Commentary – Philippians)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00