AMILLENNIALISM VERSUS DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

0 Eschatology

As things are getting worse and world is becoming more wicked, the wider the gap is becoming between the believers in Amillennialism and those who believe in Dispensational Pre-millennialism. Let’s have a look on some of the core issues causing these eschatological differences:

ORIGINS OF AMILLENNIALISM AND DISPENSATIONAL PRE-MILLENNIALISM

Amillennialists often claim that Dispensational Pre-millennialism was a “new invention” by John Nelson Darby in 1830. This is a lie. It seems that the historical argument is on the side of premillennialism since people close to the Apostle John held premillennial views, and because premillennialism was the overwhelming view of those in Asia Minor and the church of the second century. As an example, Papias (A.D. 60–130) was Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, Asia Minor. He was a contemporary of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. He held on to a chiliastic [premillennial] view.

Amillennialism on the other hand, has its origin with Augustine who, to a large extent, laid the foundations for Roman Catholic eschatology in the fourth century and was later adopted by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many other teachings of Augustine. Prior to Augustine, Amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed Pre-millennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Protestant leaders such as Calvin, Luther, and Melanchthon are properly classed as Amillennial. Although these men made great contributions with regards to the doctrines of salvation, the completely failed on eschatological issues. Sadly, to many they have become idols  and whatever they believed and preached are blindly followed without a willingness to search the Scriptures for themselves.

INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECIES

In Dispensational Pre-millennialism, a literal interpretation of the Bible is applied. The literal interpretation gives each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Allowances are however being made for symbols, figures of speech, and types, of course. It is understood that even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. So, for example, when the Bible speaks of “a thousand years” in Revelation 20, dispensationalists interpret it as a literal period of 1,000 years (the dispensation of the Kingdom), since there is no compelling reason to interpret it otherwise. They believe that the Word of God says what it means and means what it says.

In Amillennialism, an “allegorical” method of interpretation of prophecy is being used. Allegorical interpretation looks for a so-called deeper, spiritual meaning within the text. It becomes easy to read one’s own beliefs into the allegory and then think that they have scriptural support. They are also very inconsistent in their approach. For instance, they believe in the literal creation in Genesis but deny the literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth in the book of Revelation. Also, in general, they agree that all prophecies regarding the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, but to those that relate to His second coming, they apply allegory.

VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND OTHER PROPHECIES

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that Revelation is a futuristic prophetic book. They also interpret the prophecies in Matthew 24 and in many other pieces of Scripture as related to the Second coming of Christ. There is no historical evidence that these prophecies have already been all been fully fulfilled – not in 70AD or any other time in history. The Bible tells us to watch for the signs of His coming and we are currently seeing many of these prophecies playing off before our very eyes.

The majority of the Amillennialists, including the Roman Catholic Church, hold to the believe that Revelation is a historic book, merely depicting the church and the world from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of his second. Although most of the prophecies in other books of the Bible are spiritualizes by Amillennialists, they often also defend their eschatological view by saying that all prophecies were fulfilled during the first coming of Jesus Christ.

VIEWS OF THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN

Dispensational Pre-millennialists hold to the believe that Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, as clearly stated six times in Revelation 20. The millennial reign is also being described at great length in various passages in the prophetic books in the Old Testament.  It will be a time unlike any in history and it will also be unlike the conditions in the eternal state described in Revelation 21 and 22.

Amillennialists however do not hold to the believe that Jesus Christ will physically reign on the earth for exactly a 1,000 years. The’”y believe that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection and that He is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

VIEWS ON THE BINDING OF SATAN

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Satan will be bound at the second coming, after the seven year tribulation and before the thousand year reign of Christ, as clearly mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3. They believe that he currently “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Although Satan is revealed in Scripture as a created being of great power, wickedness, and cleverness, Amillennialists ignore or minimize his power and activity. Because they believe that we are already in the Millennium, they also believe that He is already bound. They identify the binding of Satan as an act subsequent to the victory of Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.  This interpretation has no basis in the text of Revelation 20:1-3 itself, but that it is superimposed upon the text. No one reading Revelation would possibly arrive at such a conclusion unless determined to make it harmonize with a preconceived idea, namely their view on the 1,000 year reign.

VIEWS ON THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Dispensational Premillennialists believe that there will be a tribulation for a period of seven years, divided in to 3 ½ years each, as mainly described in the books of Daniel and Revelation as well as in Matthew 24 and 25.

Most Amillennialists believe that the Tribulation is not a future event, but it intensifies right at the end. Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other Protestant Reformers saw the Antichrist as fulfilled in the papacy. Some also confuse the fact that Christians have to go through tests, trials and tribulations as part of the process of sanctification, with the seven year tribulation. They tend to forget, or rather ignore what Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

VIEWS ON ISRAEL

Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe that there is a distinction between the nation of Israel and the Church. They believe that the church age will draw to an end and that God’s focus will return to the Jews during the seven- year tribulation. This is clear throughout prophecy, but especially in Zechariah 12-14. Romans 11 can also not be read in any other way.

Amillennialists believe that God is done with the Jews and that all blessings to Israel have now been given to the church in a spiritual sense. This view is generally being referred to as Replacement theology. As they do not understand that God still needs to honour his promises to Israel, they also do not understand the actual reason why there need to be a rapture, a seven-year tribulation (the “Time of Jacob’s trouble”) and a thousand-year reign of Christ on earth (to honour the land covenant).

VIEWS ON THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

The majority of Dispensational Pre-millennialists believe in the doctrine of the rapture. This believe is mainly based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, John 14:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. Luke 21:36 tells us, “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” In Revelation 3:10 we read, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” In a mocking way, we are often being called “escapists.” Maybe we are, but one thing is for sure – we understand the coming time of tribulation and the wrath of God that will be poured our on this evil world.

Amillennialists do not believe in the rapture. In fact, there is no place to fit in a rapture in their broader Amillennial eschatological view.

Sadly, most Amillennialists hardly ever reflect any excitement about the Second coming of the Lord. To them it is an event somewhere in the far future. Even worse, many of them are fulfilling the prophecy in 2 Peter 3:3-4  without even realizing, “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

THE RAPTURE SERIES 9: THE COMING OF THE LORD (PART A)

0 RAPTURE

The “coming of the Lord,” occurs in a threefold manner:

The outline below shows the distinction between each coming:

First Coming

His birth in Bethlehem.

First phase of the Second Coming

His arrival in the clouds of Heaven for the Rapture.

Second phase of the Second Coming

His coming to Israel to rescue His people and to end the rule of Antichrist.

The return of Christ, generally known as His Second Coming, will occur in a two-fold phase. This is not very obvious in the Old Testament because the prophets saw the coming of Jesus as one event. Only when we combine their visions do we get a detailed picture.

We will use Isaiah 61:1 -2 as our example, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”

This statement was made approximately 700 years before Jesus was born. During those seven centuries, nobody claimed to be the anointed one of the Lord because no one could fulfill the requirements of being able to “… bind up the broken hearted” or “proclaim liberty to the captives.” This prophecy could only be fulfilled by Jesus.

In the fourth chapter of Luke we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”(verses 18-19).

Notice that Jesus closes this passage with, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the next verse says, “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down….” Yet Isaiah continues in the same breath, “…To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God….” Thus, we see that the Old Testament prophets viewed the coming of the Messiah as one event. However, Jesus clearly revealed that this one event would be interrupted by grace, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Day Of Vengeance

The prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and gave many details as to how He was to be recognized. Isaiah spoke of the Great Tribulation as “the day of vengeance, ” without mentioning the time of the Church.

The Spirit of God revealed to the writer that Jesus would come and fulfill those prophecies in detail. He would indeed preach salvation to Israel and the nations, but then Isaiah concludes with the words, “… the day of vengeance of our God…” That did not occur at the time of Jesus. Therefore, it stands to reason that a distinct time period would occur between the time of the “acceptable year of the Lord” and “the day of vengeance of our God.”

Today, we are still living in “…the acceptable year of the Lord….” Jesus deliberately stopped at that point. He closed the book and then said something remarkable, “… This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). This information should be sufficient in showing that Jesus’ coming almost 2,000 years ago is not His only one. He will come again!

We have previously read the words of the prophet Isaiah, but there is no harm done in reading them again, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

These three verses make a powerful but simple statement: Israel saw the light. However, the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy did not take place, “… the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” This most certainly is in the future.

We know from history that the Jews were the most persecuted, despised, and rejected people and no evidence is found that His glory was visible upon them nationally. Israel rejected the Messiah. They cried, “…Away with him. ..crucify him!” They said, “We have no king but Caesar.” This short statement has profound significance. They are not empty words, but they are the result of the continuous rebellion against the Living God which can be seen in Israel’s determined desire to be integrated into the nations of the world even today. Let’s look at history.

Israel Requests Equality

In Samuel’s time, Israel had collectively requested that a king rule over them instead of God. They desired to be equal with the surrounding nations. We read in 1st Samuel 8:4-5, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” This intense decision did not reflect on Samuel and his disobedient sons, but on Israel’s democratic rejection of the leadership of God, who told Samuel, “. ..they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (verse 7).

After Samuel had listed the disadvantages of having a king rule over them we read, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (verses 19-20).

Before Samuel died, again he testified to the people and reminded them of their mistake, “…ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1st Samuel 12:12). We must emphasize this event because it marks the first time Israel expressed her desire to be equal with the nations of the world.

This has so much to do with the Rapture because the Rapture finalizes the election of God’s spiritual people on earth and therefore relates to the election of God’s heavenly people, the Church.

We have already dealt with the subject of separation and integration and learned that the Church, consisting of born-again believers, must be separated from the world.

Through the separation of the children of Israel, God brought forth His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, this separation was recognized by the heathen prophet Balaam. He answered Balak, “. ..lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). Today, this remains a sore point for Israel and the world. Our modern society does not tolerate segregation, and insists that no one is special. Equality is the gospel of the end times and it is “politically correct” to treat all nations, races, and religions equally.

However, one nation is different: Israel. She, in fact, will not be counted equally with all nations of the world. At this point, that is exactly what modern Israel wants; she seeks equality and will obtain it. This will lead to the most successful integration the world has ever seen. But it’s only temporary.

Jesus Condemned By The World

When the first church was persecuted, a significant statement exposing Israel’s union with the nations was uttered in prayer , “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together’ ‘(Acts 4:27). The enemies of Christ are listed as: Herod, a half-Jew; Pontius Pilate, a Roman; the Gentiles; and Israel. In a united front they opposed the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming!

We can easily imagine that at the Second Coming of Christ, the nations will reject Him as prophesied. The Gentile nations, “… and the people of Israel were gathered together.” It is impossible for Israel to accept the Antichrist unless someone comes forward looking like the real Messiah of Israel.

Unbelief In Prophecy

So much was prophesied in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Yet when the time came for Jesus’ birth in the prophesied town of Bethlehem in Judea, no preparations were being made in Jerusalem for the birth of the King. It is only mentioned that some Gentiles from the east came to Jerusalem to announce His birth. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). They asked the right question to the right people in the right place, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (verse 2). The fact that Jerusalem was unprepared and Jesus came to the world unexpectedly is evident from the next verse, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Verse 3).

What was King Herod to do? From historic writings, we know that he was paranoid, extremely fearful and took excessive precaution for his security. Then he heard of these foreigners who were coming from far away to announce the birth of a new King of the Jews. Naturally, Herod found this intimidating because He was the King of the Jews. If another was born, Herod would no longer be king.

Prophecy Fulfilled, But Not Believed

The king called his advisers, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Verse 4). Herod asked the right people, for they knew the Scripture, read the prophets, and studied the Word of God.

He received an immediate answer, “… they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of ]uda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Verses 5-6). This is as plain as day, the King born in Bethlehem was to rule Israel.

When we continue to read about this event, we notice something very strange. There is no report of the chief priests or scribes going to Bethelehem to witness the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This proves that these “Bible believers” grasped the prophetic Scripture intellectually but had no living faith to produce action.

Again, we highlight the fact that the tangible fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the miraculous announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the signs in the heavenly constellation did not produce living faith, but rather, unbelief.

Believing Prophecy Is Required

I take this opportunity once again to emphasize that no matter how great your experience is with the Lord, how many of your prayers have been answered, how often you have been healed, how many prophetic utterances you proclaim in the church, or how frequently you have the gift of healing the sick, it is all insignificant compared with the simple faith that Jesus is who He says He is.

He poured out His blood on Calvary’s cross for our sins, was buried, arose the third day, and ascended to Heaven with the clear message that He will come again. This knowledge does not come from any experience we may have had or from seminary training, nor can we obtain it through any other educational process. This knowledge comes from the living Word of God, the Bible!

The Suffering Servant

The New Testament describes the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 in detail. To reinforce this fact, let’s read just a few verses of this beautiful Messianic chapter, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

He did not protest, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”‘(verse 7).

He was crucified between two criminals and buried in the tomb of a rich man, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (verse 9).

Faith In The Word

It insults our Lord when we desire special confirmation or supernatural manifestation in order to validate the truths of the written Word. As believers, we can completely trust every detail in the Bible.

When we come across places in Scripture which we do not understand, or which may seem contradictory, we can be assured that God does not lie. Scripture supports Scripture and it is only because of our limited intellect that we fail to grasp the deeper truths presented in the Bible.

Jesus was despised and rejected at His first coming. Pouring out His blood, He died on Calvary’s cross and became “…the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

While Jesus was on earth, He promised that He would come again, “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3), “…I go away, and come again unto you… ” (John 14:28). Jesus desires to be with us; He purchased us with His own blood! Just think, if you make a purchase, don’t you want the product? How much more does our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His life so He might receive us unto Himself? Read His prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” The announcement of His return is indisputably clear in the Scriptures.

Rapture Is Not The Last Resurrection

The Church of Jesus Christ, consisting of those who have died in Him and those who are still alive at the moment of the Rapture, “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). This can’t be made any clearer, and should not be misunderstood.

Yet some say that this verse speaks about the last resurrection when all people will stand before the white throne of judgment. The Bible does not teach that we will see Jesus at the Great White Throne. Revelation 20:11 says, “… I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” This is the ultimate judgment of all those who have rejected salvation in Jesus Christ.

Even the dead will be resurrected, as the next verse indicates, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God….” Again, there is no Lamb of God, no grace, no more salvation, only judgment. That will be the most horrible time for those who must stand before the throne of God. Undoubtedly, they will know they could have been saved, but will now realize that it is too late; there is no escape. Verse 13 categorically states, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This judgment leads to condemnation. The result is described with the words, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (verses 14-15).

The resurrection that we read of in 1st Thessalonians 4 has no relation to the one mentioned in Revelation 20. The Church “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (verse 17).

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (17)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

J. Warnings: Matt. 7:15-27. The Sermon ends with a two-fold warning. The first is against false prophets, and the second against a poor foundation. No doubt in the coming Tribulation period there will be a rash of false prophets as indicated in Matt. 24:21-24, but even now they are increasing in number. Just because a man preaches about Jesus and claims to work miracles in the name of Jesus does not mean he is a true prophet.

Jesus said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out demons? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” In the light of these words, one should employ great discernment when viewing the growing charismatic movement. It is altogether possible that this movement is preparing the religious world for the host of false prophets who will arise after the Rapture of the Church to work their deceiving miracles as predicted by Jesus.

The other warning is the parable of the two houses, or more accurately, the two foundations. Regardless of the workmanship in the houses, their ability to stand the test depends not upon the beauty of their furnishings, but upon their foundations. The lives of some unconverted men may appear to be more noble, philanthropic, gentle, industrious than that of some Christians, but the one will be swept away in the flood of God’s judgment and the other will stand. Luke’s account adds that the wise man dug deep and laid his foundation upon the rock, and Paul tells us that other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11). Jesus was speaking about the importance and the character of the foundation. Paul starts with the only true foundation and speaks of the importance and character of the building. The Christian’s life and ministry is the building. Paul laid the foundation for this dispensation as a wise master- builder, and we are to take heed how we build. We may build with wood, hay, and stubble, or with gold, silver, and precious stones. God’s fire will test the building and all that is worthless will be burned away. The building is not the person. The building may be destroyed, but the person will be saved, because man is not saved by his building but by faith.

4. Healing of the Centurion’s Servant References: Matt. 8:5-13; Lk. 7:1-10

A comparison of Matthew’s and Luke’s account of this incident is most enlightening. If we had only Matthew’s account, we would suppose that the Centurion came personally to Jesus, but when we read. Luke, we understand that certain of the Jews acted as intermediaries. The centurion did not consider himself worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, and apparently, he didn’t feel worthy to even speak to Him personally. Or perhaps he had enough discernment to know that Jesus ministered only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This incident is one of the two recorded cases where Jesus ministered to a Gentile while He was on earth.

We think of Roman soldiers as hard, cruel, unconscionable men. But this man was different. To begin with, Luke tells us that this critically ill servant was “dear unto him.” He loved this servant enough to go to the trouble of getting a delegation of Jews to go to Jesus to intercede for him. The second and almost unbelievable thing about this centurion was that he also loved the nation of Israel and had demonstrated his love by building a synagogue for the Jews. This Roman is a foreshadowing of Gentile salvation to the children of the tribulation saints in the Millennial Kingdom. God had promised Abraham long ago that He would bless those who blessed Abraham’s seed and curse those who cursed his seed. One cannot help but wonder whether there was any connection between this centurion and centurion Cornelius in Acts 10.

Jesus went with this delegation of Jews and when they were not far from the house, the centurion probably saw them coming and sent some friends to tell Jesus not to go to the trouble of coming to his house. All He needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. When Jesus heard this, He said to all those about Him, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” The friends upon returning to the house found the servant healed. One cannot help but wonder whether the centurion ever met Jesus face to face.

5. Raising of the Widow’s Son at Nain Reference: Lk. 7:11-17

This miracle is recorded only by Luke. Nain is located about 16 miles S.W. of Capernaum and about five miles S.E. of Nazareth where Jesus grew up. As He and His disciples and the crowd that was following Him approached the gate of the city, a funeral procession was passing through the gate. It was that of a widow’s only son, and when Jesus saw the situation, He had compassion on the woman. He stopped the procession and commanded the dead man to arise. And the dead man sat up and began speaking and Jesus restored him to his mother. One commentator feels that the compassion of Jesus is proof of His true humanity, and surely His command “to arise” manifested His Deity. The people all feared and said, “A great prophet has arisen among us.” He was a great Prophet, as Moses had predicted, but apparently that was all the people saw in Him. They did not recognize Him as the Son of God and the Savior from sin.

6. John in Prison Sends Disciples to Question Jesus References: Matt. 11:2-30; Lk. 7:18-35; 10:21, 22; cf. Lk. 16:16

We learned earlier that Jesus left Judea when He heard that John the Baptist had been thrown into prison. The reason for his imprisonment is given in Matt. 14:3-5; Mk. 6:17,18; Lk. 3:19,20. We do not know whether it was John personally or his disciples who had doubts about Jesus. Something seemed to be going amiss if Jesus was the promised deliverer and His forerunner was languishing in prison. When they asked Jesus if He was the One who was to come or should they look for another, He did not answer them directly but told them to go back and tell John what they had seen, that is, the various kinds of miracles being done. Miracles are not necessarily a divine accreditation, for Satan can work miracles also. But John would know the Scriptures and he would know that Isaiah had stated specific works which would identify the Messiah. These were the very works they beheld Jesus doing. See. Isa. 29:18; 35:4-6; 60:1-3.

After John’s disciples had departed Jesus began to question the people about John. What kind of a man was he? He was not a men-pleaser, a reed shaken with the wind. Neither was he a self-indulgent person living in worldly pleasure. He was a prophet the other prophets had predicted should come, (Mal. 3:1) to prepare the way for the Messiah. There was no one greater than John, according to Jesus, but interestingly enough, he that is least (or lesser) in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John. Jesus did not mean that the lesser one in the Kingdom was personally or morally better than John, but that John belonged to a dispensation that was inferior to the new Kingdom dispensation which was now at hand. The Old Covenant dispensation contained promises of the new, but John died before experiencing the new. Note the contrasts between the old and the new in Jer. 31:31-35 and 2 Cor. 3:6-16. The spiritual benefits of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ are shared both by the Church in this present dispensation and Israel in the coming Kingdom dispensation (Rom. 15:27).

Jesus continued speaking about John: “From the days of John till Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” There is a similar statement made on a different occasion in Lk. 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” The word “presseth into” is the same Greek word translated “suffereth violence” in Matthew. Translators and commentators differ widely in their interpretation of these passages; mainly over the word violent, whether it refers to violent opposition to John and Jesus, or to the eager, enthusiastic thronging of the multitudes to get in on the blessings of this new dispensation. Interpreting the statement in the light of the immediate context it appears that Jesus is contrasting the period before John with the then present period. The law and the prophets were until John. The Kingdom of heaven was as yet only a promise. Now it is here, close at hand. It is being preached and multitudes are flocking to hear about it. The great multitudes who thronged Jesus are mentioned over 80 times in the Gospels. They would even have taken Him by force to make Him king (John 6:15, where “force” is the same Greek word translated “force” in Matt. 11:12). This does not mean that all of these multitudes became saved individuals, for many were like the “stony soil in the parable of the Sower” (Matt. 13:20,21): “the same is he that heareth the word, and immediately with joy receiveth it, yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while, for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, immediately he is offended.” The multitudes were outwardly pressing into the Kingdom for the physical blessings which were being offered in the form of miraculous healings and supply of food, even though later on some of them would cry out: “Away with Him, crucify Him.”

There is yet another point that needs clarification about the words: “The law and the prophets were until John.” There are certain of the Baptist persuasion who teach that the new dispensation in which we now live began with John the Baptist; that he was the first Christian and the founder of the Baptist Church. If John was the first Christian and the founder of the Church, it is strange that the lesser one in the new arrangement is greater than John. But more importantly, Christ was not contrasting the law and the prophets with the Body of Christ Church of this dispensation, but with the Messianic Kingdom which will be set up on this earth at Christ’s second coming. Everything about John the Baptist and the Kingdom was predicted by the prophets of old, but none of the prophets predicted anything about the Body of Christ, for it was at that time a secret hidden in God Himself.

There was a big “IF” in the ministry of Jesus, and it is here expressed in Matt. 11: 14: “And if ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah which is to come.” The establishment of the Kingdom was contingent upon lsrael’s receiving of it. Had they received it, John the Baptist would have been the Elijah who was to come, but Israel did not accept John or Jesus and the Kingdom economy was set aside.

Jesus seemed to be at a loss for words to describe the generation in which He lived, and we might say that the character of succeeding generations has not changed. He asked, “Whereunto shall I liken this generation?” He then gives the similitude or parable of the children in the marketplace playing games of weddings and funerals. Children were accustomed to putting on skits in the marketplace and were disappointed when people did not dance or lament in response to their plays. So John came preaching repentance and the people did not lament, and Jesus came preaching the abundant life and the people did not dance. They accused John of being demon possessed and Christ of being a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But Jesus said, “Wisdom is justified of or by her children,” which is usually understood to mean that God’s wisdom is justified or proved right by its results. Christ is the wisdom of God personified (1 Cor. 1:24) and those who believed in Him were the children of wisdom. They repented at John’s preaching and understood the mercy and grace of Jesus in eating and drinking with publicans and sinners.

The cities around the Sea of Galilee were the most privileged cities of the world, Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum where Jesus made His headquarters and where so many of His mighty works were done. And yet they rejected the Light and nothing but judgment awaits them. Here we see the foreknowledge of the Lord Jesus, one of His divine attributes. He knew that the cities of Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would have repented if the same mighty words had been done in them. Therefore, it will be more tolerable for them in the day of judgment than for the cities in which Jesus ministered.
Jesus then turned away from this scene of rejection and judgment and turned to His Father in heaven thanking Him that He had hidden these truths from the wise and the prudent and had revealed them unto babes, for so it seemed good or was well pleasing in His sight. The wiseacres of this world are foolishness with God. Paul states: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of the thing preached to save them that believe,” (1 Cor. 1:21). Jesus did not thank the Father in the usual sense of that word. He confessed or acknowledged the fact, for that is what the Greek word means. The word “babes” in this context does not mean actual infants but those who are humble and lowly in their attitude to God. When the Son came into the world the Father delivered all things to the Son and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, and no one fully knows the Father but the Son and the one to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Him. There are a number of different words for knowing in the N.T. Here it means full or complete knowledge. It also bears the sense of relationship, as when it is stated that Joseph did not know Mary until she had brought forth her firstborn child (Matt. 1:25), or when Jesus professes, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23). The unsaved man knows about God, but he doesn’t know God; he has never come into a saving relationship with Him. He can know about God as revealed in nature, but he can never come into a living relationship with God by any natural means. This knowledge of God does not come by education but by revelation. The Spirit of God must reveal God to us for us to know Him in this relationship.

Jesus concludes this section with the invitation for all who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him for rest. The invitation to come is made to both sinner and saint. After coming to Him we are told to take His yoke upon us. A yoke is not made for one animal or person, but for two. It is that which couples two together to pull a load. We thus become yokefellows with Christ Himself. Yokefellows must have the same objectives and must pull in the same direction. When yoked with Christ the burdens and work of the ministry” become easy and light.

7. Jesus Anointed in the House of Simon the Pharisee Reference: Lk. 7:36-50

This story involves a parable of grace. We have pointed out before that Luke in his association with Paul must have imbibed the spirit of grace from this apostle of grace, for whereas the word grace does not even appear once in Matthew or Mark, it appears eight times in Luke, and the verb for showing grace appears three times more in this present incident.

Simon apparently wanted to learn more about this Rabbi who was creating such a stir, so he invited him to dinner. There was a woman also, who is simply described as a sinner, who had heard that Jesus was dining with Simon and she took advantage of the situation to meet Jesus. She came with a gift, an alabaster box of ointment. Apparently, she had listened to the teaching of Jesus, had been convicted of her sin and had repented of it, and brought this gift to show her gratitude. It is difficult for us to visualize this scene since we eat sitting up with our feet under the table. The orientals reclined on couches around the table and theft feet were thus extended to one side. It was the servant’s duty to wash and anoint the feet of guests, as seen from the story of Abigail (1 Sam 25:41). Thus, this woman took her place as a servant of the Lord. Instead of water, she washed His feet with her tears, tears which manifested a true sorrow for her past sinfulness, and then anointed His feet with the perfume.

While all of this was going on Simon sat back trying to figure out what kind of a Rabbi this was. Surely if Jesus was a prophet, He would have known that this woman was a common sinner and would never had let her touch Him. Jesus, being a prophet, not only knew what kind of woman this was, He also knew what was going through Simon’s mind. So, He related a little parable to Simon which was designed to make Simon himself pass judgment upon himself. It is one thing for a teacher to tell others of their sins; it is another thing to have the person tell himself he is a sinner, and this is what Jesus forced Simon to do, although he did it unwittingly.

A certain creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 pence and the other 50. Neither of them had a penny to his name, so the creditor frankly forgave them both. “Frankly forgave” is literally: “engraced them,” did something for them they did not deserve. “Now Simon, which one will love him most?” Simon answered, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most?” And Jesus agreed: “Thou hast rightly judged.” Then Jesus turned to the woman and began telling Simon that she had performed all of the social amenities toward Him that Simon had failed to do. Then He said concerning the woman, “Her sins which were many are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” And He said to her, “Thy sins are forgiven.”

Probably if Simon ever came to the place of admitting he was a sinner at all, and was the one who owed but fifty pence and unable to pay one penny, he would have been further convicted of his sin of self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and lovelessness and would have seen himself as sinful as the woman. This parable is, to our way of thinking, one of the clearest presentations of salvation by grace. If there is such a thing as big and little sinners, this story puts them all in the same fix; they are all morally and spiritually bankrupt. They can’t do one little thing to pay their debt of sin. And while they are in this hopeless condition, the Lord freely engraces them and cancels their debt, taking the loss upon Himself. Simon answered correctly. If he stuck by his answer he had to admit that he had very little love either for God or his fellow man. John says: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20).

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

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.
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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (16)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

D. Riches: Matt. 6:19-24. There are two great principles enunciated in this section: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and “No man can serve two masters.” The Bible contains many warnings about worldly riches. Here the warning is about the uncertainty of such riches. And even if a man succeeds in amassing a fortune, he may be like the rich fool of Lk. 12:20, whose soul was required of him and he could not take any of his riches with him. The believer can transmute base earthly labor and money into heavenly treasure and have it kept safe on deposit awaiting his arrival in glory.

Paul’s main comments on riches, and they that would be rich are to be found in 1 Tim. 6:6-10. James has some scathing remarks about the rich in Ch. 5:1-6 of his epistle. God has entrusted some of His faithful people with worldly riches, and Paul has a word for them in 1 Tim. 6:17-19.

The parable of the Eye as the Light of the Body in vs. 22 and 23 seems to be related to the location of one’s treasure as well as the serving of two masters. The eye that is single is an eye that is focused upon just one object, not on a complex mixture of objects. We should have an eye single to the glory of God (Eph. 6:5). Likewise, our eye should be focused upon the Lord who is Light, otherwise the light that is in us becomes darkness.
“No man can serve two masters.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon is an Aramaic word meaning property or wealth, and is here personified, as it is in Lk. 16:13. People try to serve both masters, but their loyalties are divided.

E. Anxiety: Matt. 6:25-34. Anxiety is a sin; it not only demonstrates a lack of faith (and whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:23), but is also injurious to health. The A.V., “Take no thought,” is a very poor translation for today, although it was a good translation in 1611 when the word thought meant anxiety, as can be seen from Shakespeare’s usage in Hamlet: “The native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”
All six of the “take no thoughts” of this passage should be translated, “Don’t be over anxious.” Jesus did not mean a reckless neglect of the future, but uneasiness and worry and anxiety about the future. While many of the principles in this section can be applied equally to the Kingdom and to the Church, we believe there is a distinct difference in some of the Kingdom promises and those for us today. Kingdom promises include material blessings. The Kingdom disciples formed a kind of commune in which they shared all their possessions in common, and we read: “Neither was there any among them that lacked” (Acts 4:34), but a few years later, after the Kingdom program had been set aside in favor of the new Pauline dispensation, we read of these same people that they had become destitute, insomuch that Paul had to take up a collection from his Gentile churches for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). Since apostolic days numerous attempts have been made to establish Christian communism, but they have all failed.

Paul condemns anxiety, just as Jesus did (Phil. 4:6), but he encourages industry and the laying aside of funds and the right use of money. He doesn’t condemn the rich but tells them to be rich in good works. He warned those who willed to be rich, for this was an indication of the love of money, which is the root of all kinds of evil.

Matt. 6:33 is often misapplied. Two questions need to be asked: What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God, and, Are all these other things automatically added? The Kingdom of which Jesus spoke was still future, for He had just instructed His disciples to pray for its coming into being. They were to seek it as a future expectation. This expectation is ours today only in a secondary sense.

Our expectation is the Rapture and to be manifested in glory with Christ. We are already in the spiritual Kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13). We are not seeking the Millennial Kingdom as the disciples of Jesus were. Even if we interpret seeking the Kingdom to mean, putting God first in our lives, does this automatically guarantee that all of these material things will be supplied? We have known people who have gone out as foreign missionaries who believed on the basis of this verse that God would add to them all of these earthly needs. They surely put God first in their lives. Some took no health precautions, thinking this promise took care of all such things, but they came down with malaria, dysentery, and parasites and had to be brought home.

We today must remember that the disciples were living in a dispensation under which they had power over all manner of diseases and even over poisonous serpents. We are not living in that dispensation. Putting God first involves putting His Word first, and that means following His instruction to rightly divide His Word, so that we know which part is for our obedience. In so doing we may learn that putting God first means industriousness, “for if any will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thes. 3:10); and the use of remedies for sickness (1 Tim. 5:23); and bodily exercise (1 Tim. 4:8 – it is profitable for a little, not profiteth little). God works according to a plan and He expects us to have a plan for our lives. We can make such plans without becoming anxious or worried. He gives us common sense and He expects us to use it. In every dispensation God and His glory should be put first, but the promises of physical blessings flowing from such actions may vary from dispensation to dispensation. Paul surely put God first in his life, but read of some of his privations in 2 Cor. 11:24-33.

F. Discernment: Matt. 7:1-6; Lk. 6:37-42. The commands in the Bible about judging can be very confusing unless we use discernment. The command here, “Judge not,” seems to say that we should never judge. But that could not be so, for Jesus also said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). And Paul instructs believers to pass judgment upon those in the Church who are misbehaving, and he asks: “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?” (1 Cor. 6:5). And in another place Paul says: “Yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Cor. 4:3) and in the same epistle, “if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged” (11:31). These are not contradictory statements.

The context must determine the meaning. In Matt. 7:1 Jesus is saying, “If you don’t want to be criticized, don’t criticize others, for others will criticize you by the same standards you use in judging others. The measure you give will be the measure you get.” And He says, before finding fault with others be sure you don’t have the same or even greater fault. He illustrates this with exaggeration. How can you see to remove a speck from your brother’s eye when you have a big log in your own eye? Getting the log out of our own eye is self-judgment. The meaning of these verses seems clear, but what did Jesus mean in Matt. 7: 67?

“Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you?” This surely, does not mean to refrain from preaching the gospel to the unsaved, for this is the only message the Christian has for those outside of Christ.

In the figure which the Lord uses, the word “holy” refers to the meat of the animal sacrifice of which no unclean person could eat (Lev. 22:6,7,10,14,15,16). Dogs were unclean animals, a term which the Jews applied to Gentiles (Matt. 15:26). Early Christians applied this similitude of the holy things to the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, which should not be administered to the unsaved.

The other similitude has a different character. Pearls have a resemblance to peas and acorns which are given to swine, but if thrown to swine, upon discovery that they are inedible they will trample them underfoot and turn upon the donor in anger. There is truth in the Bible intended for the unsaved, and there is truth intended for only the saved. To minister a heavenly diet to the unsaved is like trying to feed swine on pearls. The unregenerated mind cannot tolerate spiritual food. It is, as Paul says, foolishness unto him. When God gave the heavenly manna to the Israelites they treated it with contempt and lusted for the leeks and garlic and the fleshpots of Egypt (Num. 11:4-6).
In the corresponding portion in Luke “the measure” is enlarged upon. If you, as a merchant, fill the measure, press it down, and shake it down further and then fill it to overflowing, your customers will deal in like fashion with you. If you give a skimpy measure, you will get the same in return. This principle applies also to our relation to God, (cf. 2 Cor. 9:6).

Luke also adds the parable of the blind leading the blind. If you have a log in your eye you are blinded and cannot see to lead another who is blind. Also, the disciple or learner is not equal to his master. One must study long to become perfected as a teacher, and then he becomes equal with his master. As the poet has said, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Some people learn the meaning of a few Greek words in the N.T. and go about posing as authorities. They can easily lead others astray by conclusions based upon their ignorance of the language as a whole.

G. Encouragements: Matt. 7:7-21; Lk. 11:9-13. The encouragement is based upon prayer and the fact that if parents who are themselves evil know how to give good things to their children who ask, will not the heavenly Father rather give good things to those who ask Him? Asking, seeking, and knocking indicate varying degrees of earnestness in prayer. There is no promise of getting any or every request of a selfish nature (cf. Jas. 4:3). Parents have to be very unwise to give their children everything for which they ask. God gives good things, not requested things which would be for the hurt of the child. The comparison of bread and stones and fish and serpents might seem odd, but there can be a resemblance between these objects.

Lk. 11:13 has a variation on the Matthew rendering: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” In the O.T. the Holy Spirit came upon kings and prophets for special types of empowerments and might later leave them. The Holy Spirit was taken away from Saul because of his sins of disobedience. David prayed that God would not take His Holy Spirit from him (Ps. 51:11). The New Covenant promised that God would put His Spirit in the hearts of the children of Israel (Ezek. 36:27; 37:14).

Christ told His disciples that the Holy Spirit was dwelling with them, and that later on He would be in them (John 14:17). John explains that when Jesus spoke of rivers of living water flowing out of one’s innermost being, “He spake this of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). Whereas in that dispensation people had to pray for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell with them, and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was given after repentance and water baptism, in the present dispensation the Holy Spirit is given upon believing (Eph. 1:13, where “after believing” as in the A.V., should be translated, “upon believing,” for it is a present participle).

H. The Golden Rule: Matt. 7:12. Many people have the impression that to become a Christian one must try to keep the Golden Rule. But the Golden Rule is not a means of salvation. When Christ gave it He said: “For this is the Law and the Prophets.” Scripture is clear that no flesh will ever be justified by keeping the Law. The law demanded that you do unto others what you would have them do unto you. There is nothing especially Christian about this rule. Confucius taught it 500 years before Christ and probably all religions contain the general idea. It is actually a part of natural law. But no man, aside from Jesus Christ, ever consistently lived up to this rule. But through the operation of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, God is able to fulfill all of the righteous requirements of the moral Law in the believer (Rom. 8:24). There is nothing wrong with the Golden Rule or with the Law. Man’s sinful nature is at fault (cf. Rom. 7:12-18).

I. Alternatives: Matt. 7:13,14. Religionists often say that there are many roads that lead to heaven, but Jesus spoke of only two roads, and one of them led to destruction, leaving only one road that leads to life. In John 14:6 Christ speaks of Himself as the only Way by which men can come to God. In John 10:9 He spoke of Himself as the Door, through which if any man enter he shall be saved. In the passage before us the two gates and the two ways seem to refer more to the choices men make in life as they travel through this world.

A better translation of these two verses would be: “Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are the ones going through it: Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way that leads to life, and few are the ones finding it.” Notice the comparisons. One gate is very wide, the other very narrow; one way is broad and spacious, the other uneven and difficult to travel; one leads to disaster and destruction, the other leads to life everlasting.

If we isolate these verses from the remainder of Scripture we might get the impression that Jesus is teaching that in order to be saved one must by his own efforts overcome all of the obstacles and difficulties of the narrow way, that he must climb up to heaven by his own strength. But, of course, that is not at all what He is saying. When one enters through the narrow gate he is saved, but from there on the way will not be easy. Over and over Jesus told those who would be His disciples that they would suffer persecution and tribulation (John 16:33; Matt. 10:22; John 15:18), and the same is true in our present dispensation (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thes. 3:4). In Jesus’ day, as the opposition from the rulers mounted, it became more and more difficult to make the choice of going through the narrow gate, and the way became more and more straitened and difficult. On the other hand, it seems that the gate is so wide and the road is so broad which leads to destruction, that the unsaved are unaware of having gone through a gate. But they are aware of the bright lights and high life of Broadway, not realizing what is at the end of that road.

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

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.

We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

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A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (15)

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CHAPTER V (CONTINUE)

The Middle Galilean Period (Continue)

In this part, we are looking at the second and third of the ten divisions of the Sermon on the Mount.

B. Moral Standards: Matt. 5:17-48; Lk. 6:27-36. The scribes and Pharisees were very meticulous in observing the Law of Moses outwardly. Paul had been a Pharisee and he could say that he was blameless in its observance (Phil. 3:4-6), but this observance produced only self-righteousness. To enter the Kingdom one must have a better righteousness than that. It must be an inward righteousness.

As long as a man did not actually commit adultery, the Mosaic Law on sex could not touch him, even though he may have lived daily with a burning desire for another man’s wife. But according to the higher law which Christ enunciated, such a man was an adulterer before God. In vs. 28, “whosoever looketh on a woman,” looketh is in the present tense and therefore has the idea of continuous action, “keeps on looking and lusting after her.” When Jesus spoke these words the people of Israel were still under the dispensation of Law, as borne out by the fact that Jesus spoke of bringing their gifts to the altar (vs. 23-26).

Jesus quoted from two of the Ten Commandments which deal with the foundations of society: “Thou shalt not kill,” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and explained how the fulfillment depended upon the inner condition of purity of the heart.

He next quoted two laws which have a very wide application in the inner-relationships of men. One deals with truth and the other with justice. Lev. 19:12 is first quoted: “Thou shalt not forswear thyself,” that is “Thou shalt not swear falsely, but perform unto the Lord thine oaths.” But Jesus says, “Swear not at all . . . let what you say be a plain yes or no. Anything more than this has a taint of evil.” If a man has to swear an oath to prove he is telling the truth, it may well be doubted that he is trustworthy.

Jesus next quoted Ex. 21:24, “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This is strict justice, but Jesus tempers justice with mercy. He tells His disciples to give to others more than they deserve. Instead of love your neighbor and hate your enemy, Jesus says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”

We believe Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He spoke of cutting off one’s hand or foot or other bodily member. God forbad actual mutilation of the human body, and besides such mutilation would be equivalent to suicide, for one would probably bleed to death. There are those who believe that Jesus intended this instruction to be carried out literally, but if so, we have no record of anyone obeying the command. Nor do we believe Jesus intended that His disciples give away all they possessed to anybody for any reason. Even Jesus under certain circumstances did not turn the other cheek (cf. John 18:23). We are sure Jesus did not mean that if a robber entered the house of a disciple he should gladly give him all of his worldly possessions and permit his loved ones to be sexually abused and then give him a kiss of brotherly love and send him on his way rejoicing.
When Jesus spoke of a person having a beam or a big log in his eye, we understand He was using hyperbole, for how could one get the whole trunk of a tree in his eye? Paul likewise tells us to “mortify, that is, put to death our bodily members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5). Do we take this literally, or do we understand it to mean that since we were crucified and put to death together with Christ, we are therefore to reckon ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God?

One needs only to read Rom. 12:17-13:10 to see that Paul gives almost identical instructions to members of the Body of Christ as Jesus gave to His Kingdom disciples. Listen to just a few of his Words: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head… Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Notice how Luke renders Matt. 5:45-48 in Lk. 6:32-36. Luke says, “If ye love them that love you, or do good to them that do good to you, or lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye?” The Greek reads: “What grace is there in that?” We have previously pointed out the seeming influence of Paul upon Luke’s writing, and here we see it again.
C. Righteous Acts: Matt. 6:1-18. The word translated “alms” in vs. 1 should read “righteous acts.” Alms, Prayer and Fasting are here included as righteous acts.

Alms: Alms is a word which comes from the Anglo-Saxon, a word having the same meaning as eleemosynary, which is a transliteration of the Greek word used in our text. It is derived from the word mercy and means showing mercy or compassionateness. God can reward only that which is done from the heart and for His glory. A man might give all of his money to feed the poor, and if he did it to promote his own prestige, Jesus says whatever prestige he received would be his full reward. This same principle holds for any kind of so-called humanitarian or religious good works (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3).

Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer, which might better be called the Disciple’s Prayer, is related also in Luke 11:1-4, but on an entirely different occasion. The prayer was doubtless intended to be a sample or model for prayer: not a prayer to be memorized and repeated word for word, over and over again. Jesus warned against using vain repetitions in prayer. When God has answered our requests we do not continue to ask for that thing. If He has supplied not only our bread for today but for a week or month in advance, we should thank Him for the supply; not continue to petition Him. There is progressive revelation concerning prayer which must also be considered. It should be noted that the “Our Father” prayer makes no mention of the name of Jesus. Toward the end of Jesus’ ministry He gave further instructions for prayer. He said, “Hitherto (that is, up to the present time) have ye asked nothing in my name.” Now, He says: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” (John 16:23,24). Asking in His name means to ask in His behalf, or for His sake. It is easy to end a prayer with the words, “in Jesus’ Name” without having analyzed whether the petition is really for the glory of Christ. With these introductory thoughts in mind, let us look at each element of the prayer.

“Our Father, which art in heaven.” Many Jews could not have ‘prayed this prayer, for Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the Devil,” (Jn. 8:44). It is most important to recognize the fact that the disciples were children of God, both as far as the prayer is concerned and as far as the following context is concerned. Otherwise we may become confused on the matter of the security of the believer. All prayer should begin with praise and worship of God.

“Hallowed be thy name.” The word “hallow” means to be holy, to sanctify, to make a person or thing the opposite of common. God’s name stands for God Himself. That is why God commanded that we should not take His name in vain, or lower His name to the base and commonplace things of this world. This is a petition, which means that the one praying is asking for God’s name to be hallowed in his own personal life.

“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” These two requests are very closely tied together, for when the Kingdom comes God’s will shall be done in earth as it is done in heaven. This request is another evidence that the Kingdom in the Gospel accounts is the yet future Messianic Kingdom which shall be established here upon the earth. As we have seen, the Kingdom was near at hand but it had not yet come. It is a strange anomaly that many Christians who do not believe that Jesus will ever come back to establish a Kingdom on earth, often pray this prayer for the coming of the Kingdom, even in public service or at their churches. Even though Israel rejected Him and had Him crucified, He prayed for their forgiveness and a new opportunity was given them in the early chapters of Acts to repent, but they again rejected Him and the Kingdom establishment was postponed until God’s hitherto secret purpose concerning the Church is fulfilled.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” There has been much controversy over the exact meaning of the word translated “daily.” We have already commented on the inconsistency of praying for that which we already have. However, there are millions of hungry people in the world who could consistently pray such a prayer. But to place the prayer in its proper context of the coming Millennial Kingdom which will be preceded by the Great Tribulation, this request takes on added meaning. We know that when the Beast comes to power in that day no man will be permitted to buy or sell unless he has submitted to the Beast and received his mark in his right hand or upon his forehead, (Rev. 13:17). We can well imagine the awful plight of the godly Jewish remnant in that day, and how they will have to pray in earnest this prayer for daily bread. While we believe the prayer will have special significance for Israel in the time of Jacob’s trouble, it is surely a legitimate prayer for God’s people at any time in a state of emergency. Some understand the word “bread” to refer to spiritual, rather than physical sustenance. Christ is the Bread that came down from heaven (Jn. 6:33). “Bread” also relate to basic needs as it is wrong to pray for luxurious things we do not actually need.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Often this verse is placed in contrast to Eph. 4:32, where we are told to forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. It is said that in the Kingdom order one had to forgive others in order to be forgiven by God; whereas today we are to forgive others because we have been forgiven. We do not think this distinction is justifiable. In the prayer as recorded by Luke this request reads: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.” Besides this, the tense of the verb “forgive” in Matthew should be rendered as a perfect, and practically all of the other English versions render the Matthew passage: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The forgiveness in this passage is the Father’s forgiveness of His child, and not the once for all judicial forgiveness which one receives when he becomes a child of God. We will have more to say on this point when commenting on the verses which follow the prayer.

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Here we must stop and ask whether God ever leads any one into temptation? Does not James state: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (Jas. 1:13). The solution to the problem lies in the proper understanding of the word translated “temptation.” This word does not necessarily mean a solicitation to sin. The word means a trial or test of any kind. Notice how the word is used in the following passages. When Jesus asked Philip, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these (5,000) may eat?” we read that Jesus said this “to prove him.” Here Jesus was testing Philip’s faith; not tempting him to sin (John 6:5,6). When the Jewish leaders tried to trap Jesus with the question of whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not, Jesus answered: “Why tempt ye me?” (Lk. 20:23). Jesus surely did not mean that these Jews were tempting Him to commit sin. They were putting Him on trial. When Peter at the council in Jerusalem asked: “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10), it is evident that he did not mean that they were tempting God to sin. When we read, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,” (Heb. 11:17), we understand that the word in this context means that God was testing or trying Abraham’s faith: not that He was tempting him to sin.

Also the word “lead” us not into temptation has in it the connotation of seducing or enticing to sin. The Greek word means “to bring into.” The American Standard version translates it: “And bring us not into temptation.” Today’s English version has it, “Do not bring us to hard testing.” The New English Bible reads, “And do not bring us to the test.”
While it is true that God never tempts any one to sin, He does sometimes bring us into situations where our faith is sorely tested, and in such situations there is the possibility of yielding to temptation to choose our own way and thus transgress God’s way. But James is quick to point out that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed,” (Jas. 1:14). It is not God who entices us to evil, but our own sinful lusts. Thus, this petition is to keep us out of situations in which it would be beyond our strength to keep from sinning. We cannot live in such a world as ours without confronting tests and temptations to evil daily, but we have the promise that “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The negative part of the petition is, “Don’t bring us into severe tests.” The positive part is, “But deliver us from evil,” or as many translate, “Deliver us from the evil one.” Satan is ever on the job of enticing people to sin, but in the coming Tribulation period when he is cast out of heaven into the earth, we read, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,” (Rev. 12:9-12). Since the primary interpretation of this prayer belongs to the Kingdom disciples who are destined to go through the Tribulation, we can see the special significance of praying to be delivered from the evil one.

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This final statement is omitted from the prayer as given in Lk. 11, and it is also omitted from certain of the Greek manuscripts of the prayer in Matthew. Most modern English versions also omit it. Whether these words were spoken by Jesus or added later by a scribe to complete the prayer we may not be sure, but the ascription of power and glory to the Father is true.

After giving the prayer to the disciples, Jesus continues to speak of forgiveness. He says: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Does this mean that one who does not forgive his fellow man will lose his salvation? or that one who does forgive, as in the previous verse, will gain salvation by forgiving? It is a serious mistake to equate forgiveness with salvation, since forgiveness is only one of the many facets of salvation. It is also a mistake to equate the Father’s forgiveness of His child with the judicial forgiveness of the sinner at the moment of salvation. When one is saved the judicial penalty is forgiven once for all. After one becomes a child of God he still has the possibility of sinning, and such sin has to be dealt with, either by the child of God or by the Father. If the child confesses it to the Father, it is forgiven, (1 John 1:9). If the child does not confess it, then the Father must settle the matter, and He does this through judging the sin Himself and this results in chastening of some kind. Paul says, “If we would judge ourselves (confess our sins), we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31,32). Always remember, that a child of God will not lose his salvation but sin and bad works may impact his rewards.

An analogy might help at this point. A man may break into a store and steal merchandise. He is arrested and brought before the judge. He receives a penalty of punishment for a certain period of time in jail. On the other hand, a child may steal some money from his father’s purse. What does the father do? Take the child to court and have him sent to jail? Of course not. The father knows what his son has done and he waits to see if he will recognize that he has done wrong and will come and own up to what he has done. Until the son confesses his wrong there is a strained relation on the part of the son to the father. But if the son does not come voluntarily to set matters right, then the father must take the matter in hand and administer some kind of chastisement. The sin of a Christian is just as sinful, if not more so, than that of the unsaved person, but God deals differently with the sin of the unsaved and that of those who are His beloved children.
Fasting: Fasting has never been commanded by God, but when it is done the same rule applies as in the case of almsgiving and prayer. It should be done in secret before God and not before man. It is perhaps one of the most difficult things a minister of the Word has to contend with, when he receives the praise of his fellow-Christians, to give all of the glory to God and not to feel a little pride in what he has done.

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

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

0 RAPTURE

THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

Israel is God’s chosen nation but will not be raptured.

Our Blessed Hope

The Rapture is an orthodox doctrine which cannot be denied. The purpose of this part of our series is to encourage the Church to believe in the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also ” (John 14:1-3) Therefore, we joyfully await the Lord! The apostle Paul warns believers to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Therefore, based on the Scripture, we believe in the immanency of the Rapture!

The Necessity Of Faith

Some claim that since you cannot humanly explain something, it does not exist. Such conclusions are faulty because the Bible says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2nd Corinthians 4:18).

The Bible is a book of faith, and only to the extent that we are willing to subject our intellect to the authority of the Holy Scriptures are we able to understand its message. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse speaks in scientific and legal terms: Faith is “substance” and “evidence.”

For this very reason, it is futile to argue the doctrine of the Rapture with those who deny the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the simplest of terms and listed only one condition when he described the coming Rapture, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (1st Thessalonians 4:14). Therefore, if we do not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot be born again. As a result, we will not be raptured.

Israel: The End time Sign

When we talk about the Rapture, we must realize that this is not an isolated event concerning only the Church of Jesus Christ, nor is it a doctrine established only in the New Testament. That is far from the truth. We notice from many passages, Romans 11 in particular, that the Church of Jesus Christ mainly consists of Gentiles and is actually part of Israel; we are organically one. The Bible clearly supports the position of the Gentiles with the following words, “… wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (verse 24). Verse 17 gives further clarification, “…thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them par-takest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”

Since the olive tree represents Israel, the Gentiles who believe in Jesus have been joined with Israel, making us one. When the Rapture takes place, it will undoubtedly affect Israel, as we will see later on.

This organic unity is also emphasized in Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” And of course, we must not forget to mention Ephesians 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” Therefore, if part of the promise was addressed to the Church from among the Gentiles, we can conclude that Israel must be the greatest end-time sign for the Church and that the Rapture is close at hand. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at Israel.

Israel To Be Separate

Very few seem to realize that the union of the Jews and Gentiles clearly violates God’s order. According to Deuteronomy 14:2, Israel cannot be integrated into the nations of the world, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” God set the Jews apart, “above all other nations.” They are chosen for God’s purpose. If Satan, the prince of this world, who is also called the god of this world, is successful in mixing the Jews with the Gentiles, then he can eradicate the Jews, dissolving them in the ocean of Gentiles, ruining God’s promises. We know from the Bible that in the end, Satan will not succeed. The Lord will see to it that Israel will be saved out of this terrible coming day, the Great Tribulation.

Israel Failed To Separate

From reading the Old Testament, we know that Israel failed to completely fulfill this commandment of God. For as long as Joshua lived, the people followed the Lord’s instruction to destroy their enemies. However, after Joshua died, we read over and over in the book of Judges that the tribes of Israel did not completely drive out the enemies from within their allotted territory. We arrive at this conclusion based on the following examples:

• Judah and Simeon “… could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley…” (Judges 1:19).
• “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem…” Judges 1:21)
• “Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean…” (Judges 1:27).
• “… when Israel was strong… they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Judges 1:28).

Israel failed to execute God’s commandment. This has carried over to the present problem in the Middle East and is nothing other than the result of Israel’s disobedience, even thousands of years ago! Israel deliberately refused to separate herself from the nations and has continuously allowed some degree of integration.

Israel Failed To Receive The Kingdom Of God

In the fullness of time, Jesus, Son of God and Messiah came and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Finally, Israel had the opportunity to be a unique nation above all others as a visible testimony to the heathen.

John the Baptist, the herald of the coming Messiah, proclaimed,
“…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John did not come out with this statement of his own initiative, but quoted the prophetic Scripture, “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3). When Jesus was baptized by John, we hear the heavenly Father’s confirmation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Fulfilled Prophecy

It is fascinating to notice that all of these events took place in accordance with the prophetic Word, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22). Even the religious people who in reality did not wait for the coming of the Messiah had to confess, “…for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matthew 2:5). In verse 15 we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet….” And in verse 17, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet…”When His parents had settled in Nazareth, we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Verse 23). Jesus came to fulfill the perfect will of God the Father. The New Testament repeatedly testifies of His works as being the fulfillment of prophecy.

The scribes, the Pharisees, and the other religious authorities should have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not. Why not? Because prophecy had to be fulfilled. Matthew 13:14-15 bears witness that, “…in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in their midst! However, Israel stumbled, and the Jews fell deeply into unbelief because they had wanted the kingdom and the king on their own terms!

Israel Isolated Through Judgment

After the children of Israel refused to obey God and keep His commandments, which would have separated them from the heathen nations around them, God used the nations as a tool of judgment to separate the Jews from their land and scatter them across the entire world!

Since the destruction of the Temple by the Roman forces in A.D. 70, the Jews have been severely persecuted throughout the world.

Volumes have been written about the horrible suffering of the Jewish people during the course of the last 2,000 years.

God ordained them to be distinctly identified, isolated, and separated: not for the purpose of uniqueness in a positive sense, but often for discrimination, oppression and even death.

Israel’s Miraculous Birth

Through Hitler’s Nazi killing machine, more than six million Jews perished, not because of any crime or wrongdoing on their part, but simply because they were Jews. They were different!

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand why God permitted such horrifying judgment upon His chosen people. Many have asked the question without receiving a definite answer. All we know is that Israel arose immediately after the Holocaust and became a nation. The horrible injustices suffered by the Jewish people contributed to the United Nations’ decision to grant them the right to establish a homeland in the territory named by the British-Palestine.

At the beginning the Jews and Arabs lived together in relative harmony in the Holy Land. However, with the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, and the wars that followed as a result, Israel became divided from her Arab neighbors. The division of these two groups caused the world to pressure Israel into compromise regarding the coexistence between them and the Arab-Palestinians.

Even today, Israel still desires peaceful coexistence with all the Arabs, and undoubtedly, this division will be dealt with in a democratic fashion so that one day Israel will live in peace with all of her Arab neighbors. It must be stressed, however, that this peace will only be temporary because it is a false peace.

Israel’s Uniqueness

We deliberately emphasize Israel’s position in relation to the Church and the Gentile nations so that we may understand why it is necessary in these end times to expect a supernatural intervention. God must fulfill His Word; “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). How can God make Israel a special, chosen people above all the nations of the world if they are expected to become one with the world?

Now that we are witnessing the integration of the Jews with the nations of the world, we are forced to ask, “How much longer will it be until God must supernaturally interfere in order to maintain the national identity of His chosen people?”

Israel: The Origin Of The Church

Many readers might be asking, “Does Israel have a direct relationship with the Church and the Rapture?” The answer is “yes” because Israel has been given to us as an example. Therefore, we must also analyze the Church in regard to her chosen position as a separate identity, using Israel as our pattern! This will be done in part 6 of our series.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

 

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (13)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER IV (CONTINUE)

The Early Galilean Ministry (CONTINUE)

6. A Full Day of Miracles at Capernaum
References: Matt. 8:14-17; Mk. 1:21-34; Lk. 4:31-41

It will be noted that we have skipped over the three chapters in Matthew on the Sermon on the Mount, which seems to have been given later after Jesus had ordained His Twelve Apostles.

In comparing these three accounts it will be seen that Mark and Luke are almost identical. Matthew omits completely the preaching in the synagogue and the casting out of the unclean demon, but he does give substantially the same stow as Mark and Luke on the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, and of the miraculous events at the end of the day.
Regarding the synagogue at Capernaum it is interesting to note that the ruins of this synagogue may be seen today and the inscription on the middle wall forbidding Gentiles to cross over on pain of death has been unearthed. It was here that Jesus taught on that Sabbath day when a man with an unclean spirit cried out: “What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee, who thou art: the Holy One of God.” Luke says the man had a spirit of an unclean demon. This is the only occurrence of this expression. Mark speaks of unclean spirits eleven times, Luke six times and Matthew twice. Neither Matthew nor Mark speak of unclean demons. Spirits are called evil and dumb, as well as unclean, and once one is spoken of as a spirit of infirmity.

There are 76 references to demons in the N.T., always rendered “devil” or “devils” in the Authorized Version. Demon possession was especially prevalent at the time of Christ and will be again at the end of the age. We know very little about the nature of demons, only that they are evil spirits which apparently seek embodiment in human beings. The Bible reveals some of the effects of demon possession, although some of these effects may be simply physical or psychosomatic diseases. Demons may cause Dumbness (Matt.9:32,33); Blindness (Matt. 12:22); Lunacy (Matt. 17:15); Super-human strength (Mk. 5:1-4); Sickness (Lk. 13:12,16); Divination (Acts 16:16); Immorality or uncleanness (Matt. 10:1); Nudity (Luke 8:27); Free-love (1 Tim. 4:3); Maniac behavior (Mk. 5:2-5).

Whereas demons almost always produce degrading behavior and are under the control of the Devil, Satan himself and his ministers transform themselves into angels of light and ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15), working lying signs and wonders, deceiving the very elect if that were possible (Matt. 24:24; Rev. 12:9; 13:14). In apostolic times a special gift of discerning of spirits was given which made it possible to recognize demon possession. Demons still exist and doubtless there are cases of demon possession, and Christ and His gospel are powerful enough to overcome any demon or Satanic powers.

The demons recognized Jesus as the Holy Son of God and they trembled in His presence, even if mankind did not. They knew they were under condemnation and someday would be judged. When Jesus commanded the unclean demon spirit to come out of the man, and it obeyed, convulsing him as it did, the people were amazed at the authority of Jesus and His fame spread throughout the region.

Leaving the synagogue, He entered the house of Simon and Andrew where He found Simon’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. He rebuked the fever and it left her and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.

The news had spread and, in the evening, a great multitude came bringing all of the diseased and demon possessed and He laid hands upon everyone and healed them all. This healing was vastly different from that of so-called faith healers today, where some claim to be healed and the majority go away disillusioned. It is Matthew again who links up this healing ministry with prophecy, for he says that Jesus healed them “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Isa. 53:4). This passage deserves very careful exposition, since there are many today who are claiming divine healing on the basis that Christ bore our sicknesses just the same as He bore our sins, and we have just as much right to claim healing of the body as we do salvation of the soul. We believe there are at least six answers to this.

• It is plainly stated that Christ fulfilled this prophecy in bearing sicknesses two years before He died on the Cross where He made atonement for sin. Therefore, the healing was not in the atonement.
• The verbs for bearing sin and bearing sickness are entirely different. The word for bearing sin is “anaphero,” and is used in such passages as I Pet. 2:24; Heb. 9:28; and Isa. 53:12 (Septuagint). The word for bearing sickness is “bastazo” and is used in such passages as Matt. 3:11, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear;” Gal. 6:2, “bear ye one another’s burdens;” Rom. 15:1, “bear the infirmities (same word as sicknesses in Matt. 8:17) of the weak;” Isa. 53:4, “surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Thus Christ bore sins in an altogether different way from bearing sicknesses.
• If healing is in the Atonement as is claimed to the same extent as salvation, then one possesses salvation only to the extent he has perfect health. But since all saints in the past have died, most from disease, this would prove that all had lost their salvation, for they surely lost their health.
• The Apostle Paul gloried in his infirmities (the same word as used in Matt. 8:17). See 2 Cor. 11:30; 12:9,10. If having sickness is necessarily out of the will of God then Paul gloried in being out of the will of God, and it was God’s grace that taught him to do it.
• Healing in the Atonement denies such Scriptures as Rom. 8:23: “but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Our final salvation includes a redeemed body, but not in this world, where Paul tells us we have a body of humiliation.
• Finally it should be noted that God has promised health to Israel, along with all other physical and material blessings. See Deut. 28:1-14. God revealed Himself to Israel as “Jehovah-Ropheca,” the Lord that healeth thee (Ex. 15:26). This is the reason we find that physical healing was the prominent part of Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel. Healing was one of the credentials of the Messiah, by which Israel could recognize Him when He came on the scene.

7. Jesus Prays and Goes On a Mission Throughout All Galilee
References: Matt. 4: 23-25; 8:1-4; Mk. 1:35-45; Lk. 4:42-44; 5:12-16

Mark alone tells us that Jesus arose long before daybreak and went out into a desert place to pray. It is very difficult for us to understand the prayer life of our Lord, how or why it was necessary for the very Son of God to pray to the Father. He was God Himself and why should God have to pray? But He was also Man, and as such He humbled Himself and submitted Himself to the will of the Father. There is much of the prayer life of our Lord in the Gospels. Here, before starting out on a preaching tour throughout Galilee, He communes with the Father and doubtless asks the Father’s blessing upon this undertaking.

The disciples arose later and went out looking for Him and when they found Him they told Him how the multitudes were waiting for Him. Many others who followed the disciples also begged Him to continue His ministry with them, but Jesus told them He must move on and preach in all of the other towns because He was sent for this purpose. And so we read that Jesus went throughout all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and sickness.
One particular healing miracle is singled out in this section, that of a leper. Leprosy was considered an incurable disease and any healing of it to be a working of the power of God. The loathsomeness of this disease and its hopelessness is doubtless a picture of the nature of sin. Leprosy separated its victim from the remainder of society (Lev. 13:44-46), just as sin separates from fellowship with God.

Matthew also records the cleansing of this leper, but he places it right after Jesus comes down from delivering the sermon on the mount, (ch. 8:1-4). Luke states it was while He was in one of the cities the event took place. The leper kneeled before Jesus, worshipping Him (an expression of Christ’s Deity), and saying: “Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be thou made clean.” Jesus had to come in contact with the leprosy of sin, a contact which would have made a clean person unclean; He had to take upon Himself man’s sin in order to cleanse man from his defilement. After cleansing the leper Jesus charged him to say nothing to any man about the healing but to go and show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifices Moses commanded for a testimony unto them (Lev. 14). Although the priesthood in Israel was corrupt and would finally condemn Jesus to death, He recognized that He was still under the divinely established dispensation of Law, and was always obedient to it and instructed His disciples to do whatsoever Mosaic leaders commanded (cf. Matt. 23:1-3).

In what way would this leper give a testimony to the priest? The priest was the one who had pronounced him to be a leper. The priest knew that only God could cure leprosy. This fact is clearly seen in the story of 2 Kings 5 when the king of Syria sent a message to the king of Israel saying his army general had leprosy and he was sending him to the king with gifts for the king to heal him of his leprosy. When the king read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of leprosy?” Of course, there was in Israel at that time a prophet of God who performed the miracle on Naaman. Therefore the priest in our present case would have to admit that Jesus was God, or at least was doing the works of God. Thus, by going to the priest the man’s healing was authenticated. Had the man not gone to the priest for an official bill of health others might have said, “We don’t believe you ever had leprosy.” We think this is the reason Jesus told the man to say nothing to others but go straight to the priest. He was not saying, “I do not want you ever to tell anyone about your healing, ”but rather,” don’t tell others until you have gone to the priest.” The fact is, that after he had gone to the priest he told so many people about Jesus that Jesus could no longer openly enter into the city because of the crowds, but had to retire to a desert place and minister to those who came to Him.

Modern drugs have been found which will arrest the disease of leprosy, but these drugs have no ability to cure the patient of the effects of the disease. If fingers or toes or other parts of the body have been sloughed off, the drug cannot restore these members. The victim is still a pitiable creature. When Jesus healed the leper he was completely restored. It is stated in the case of Naaman, “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5: 14). The same principle works in God’s salvation. When He saves a person He does not merely patch up the old man with all of his deformities and scars: He creates a new man (cf. Col. 3:9,10).

8. Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof
References: Matt. 9:2-8; Mk. 2:1-12; Lk. 5:17-26

We learn from Matthew that Jesus entered a boat and crossed the lake of Galilee and came to “his own city.” Mark tells us that this city was Capernaum. This is where Jesus made His headquarters in Galilee. Matthew omits the part about removing the tiles from the flat-topped roof so they could lower the paralytic man in the presence of Jesus, but Mark and Luke both give this detail. Mark gives the further detail that the paralyzed man was carded by four other men. Luke tells us that on this occasion Pharisees and doctors of the law from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem had gathered to observe Jesus and that the Power of the Lord was with Jesus to perform healing.

If leprosy with its defilement speaks of sin, then palsy or paralysis represents powerlessness or inability of the sin nature toward God. Paul brings out this aspect of our nature in Rom. 5:6: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” The sinner must come to the place where he sees himself as morally and spiritually paralyzed, unable to move himself and therefore dependent one hundred percent on the grace of God for salvation. The leper and the paralytic both illustrate Israel’s spiritual condition, and their healings illustrate the regeneration which will take place when Christ returns as Israel’s Savior and King.

The four men represent the soul-winner: we cannot save souls; all we can do is to bring men to Christ. And these four personal workers manifested great industry, if they couldn’t get the man to Christ by the usual means of going through the door, they used a very unusual means of tearing a hole in the ceiling and lowering him through the hole. We need to use every means at our disposal to reach men for Christ.

The man in the story had two diseases. The Lord healed the most important one first. Seeing the man’s faith He said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” This immediately stirred up the Jewish religious leaders present, for they said, “Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Only God could cleanse the leper and restore his flesh like new, and only God can forgive sins, but Jesus did both, which proves that Jesus was God. Then Jesus asked, “Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?” But to prove He had power to forgive sins He said to the paralyzed man, “Arise and take up thy couch, and go unto thy house.”

The spectators were amazed when the cripple got up, picked up his pad and started home glorifying God. All they could say was, “We have seen strange things today,” and others said, “We never saw it on this fashion.” Is it not strange, almost unbelievable, that the sinful hearts of these unconverted religionists could witness such evidences of the Deity of Christ, and still rebel in their minds and seek some means of putting Jesus to death? It is no wonder Paul says that the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:6-8).

9. The Call of Matthew
References: Matt. 9:9-13; Mk. 2:13-17; Lk. 5:27-32

Mark and Luke call Matthew, Levi, and Mark adds that he was the son of Alphens. He was a publican or tax collector for the Roman government and was naturally hated by the people. He was seated at the tax office or toll house when Jesus passed by and said, “Follow me.” Luke tells us that Levi made a great feast at his house for Jesus and invited a great many publicans and others to the feast. Then the Pharisees began complaining to the disciples, as they did in Lk. 15, that Jesus received sinners and ate with them. Jesus’ answer was two-fold: “People who are healthy have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Thus, those who refused to come to Jesus affirmed that they were healthy and righteous: they had no need of Jesus. But the other answer He gave was: “But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” The reference is to Hos. 6:6. The prophet was not saying that God never commanded the people to bring sacrifices; for He did, but that He desired mercy and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. The Pharisees were punctilious in the religious observances but their hearts were far from God. They honored Him with their lips but denied Him by their works.

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

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