A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (6)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER I (CONTINUE)

THE PREPARATORY PERIOD

EXPOSITION (CONTINUE)

4. Infancy of Jesus (References: Matt. 2:1-23; Lk. 2:21-39)

Let us first piece together the narrative from these two Gospels. Luke tells of the circumcision of Jesus when He was eight days old, and of the prophesying of Simeon along with the words of Anna on that occasion. After vs. 38 we must turn back to Matthew where we learn of the visit of the Magi, which occurred somewhat later, and then of Herod’s plot to kill the infant Jesus, of God’s warning to Joseph to flee into Egypt with the child, and of their stay there until Herod’s death. Luke takes up the story again at this point and simply states that they returned to Galilee to their own city of Nazareth. However, Matthew fills in details, how they feared to return to Judea when they heard that Herod’s son had become king, so they turned aside into Galilee and settled down in Nazareth.

A. The Circumcision of Jesus. It is evident that Jesus was born and lived under the dispensation of the Law. On the eighth day His parents brought Him from Bethlehem to Jerusalem for His circumcision and for offering the sacrifice demanded by the law. Paul states this truth in Gal. 4:4: “In the fulness of time God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” It is most important to remember that we today live in an entirely different divine dispensation from that under which Jesus lived and ministered.

B. The Prophecy of Simeon. The important dispensational part of Simeon’s prophecy is, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel: and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, and a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The A.V. translation is faulty, as it predicates the failing and rising of the same persons: the fall and rising again of many. The American Revisers give it correctly: the falling and the rising.” The many of that generation fell; the many of a future generation of Israel will rise again.

Paul is the Apostle who announces the fall of Israel and the future rising or fulness of Israel in Rom. 11:11-32. It is of utmost importance to know when the fall of Israel took place and its effect. Many dispensationalists, as well as most non-dispensationalists, suppose that the fall of Israel occurred at the Cross. They therefore begin the new Christian dispensation on the day of Pentecost. But what are the scriptural facts?

Christ prayed for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him; Peter stated that they had done this in ignorance and that God would restore the Kingdom to them if they would repent; and it is plainly stated in Acts 3:26 that it was to Israel first after God had raised up His Son that God had sent Him to bless them. The fall of Israel came after Pentecost and after the Apostolic testimony of the resurrection of Christ. It was because of Israel’s fall that God raised up a new apostle to announce that fall and the beginning of a new dispensation. Paul’s statement is very clear: “through their (Israel’s) fall, salvation is come unto the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:11). The first Gentile to be saved was in Acts 10 and the door of faith for the Gentiles was not opened until Acts 13 (cf. 14:27). Pentecostalism is the logical outcome of beginning the new dispensation at Pentecost. Scripture plainly indicates it began with Paul at the fall of Israel.

But Christ was also set for the rising of many in Israel. And Paul tells of this also. “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness? For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:12,15). And he goes on to show that the whole nation of Israel is going to be saved after this gentile dispensation is ended.

C. The Visit of the Magi. It is commonly supposed that the Magi came to Jesus on the night He was born in the manger. The shepherds did come on that glad night. However, it appears that the Magi arrived somewhat later. Jesus was not in a manger when they arrived, but in the house (Matt. 2:11). When Herod plotted to take the life of the infant Jesus, he inquired diligently of the Magi when the star first appeared to them, and then he issued his decree that all children under two years of age in that region should be killed (Matt. 2:16). Why “under two years” if Jesus was but a few days old? Jesus might have been over a year old when Herod acted.

D. Dreams. God dealt with Israel through dreams, visions, and signs. Note that it was in a dream that God told Joseph that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit; it was by a dream that he warned Joseph to flee into Egypt; it was by a dream that he informed Joseph to return to Israel now that Herod was dead (cf. Hos. 11:1); and it was in a dream that he warned Joseph not to go into Judea but return to Galilee. Note God’s promise to Israel: “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts. 2:17).

It is important to note that God does not give people extra-biblical revelation through dreams and visions. Christians who are ignorant of this fact try to interpret their dreams as additional messages from God and end up in confusion and fanaticism. He can speak through dreams, if he chooses, but we must keep in mind that the Bible is complete, having revealed everything we need to know from now to eternity. This is not to say, that God does not work miracles or even speak through dreams today, but anything God says, whether through a dream, vision, impression, or “still voice,” will agree completely with what He has already revealed in His Word. Dreams cannot usurp the authority of Scripture.

E. The King of the Jews. It is significant that the Magi spoke of Jesus as King of the Jews. And, of course, it is significant that these astrologers from an eastern country, perhaps Persia, should have known about the Jewish Messiah. It must be remembered that the Jews were taken captive by the Babylonians and that prophets like Daniel became high government officials in Babylon and Persia. The Jews who returned under Ezra and Nehemiah must have left behind a great deal of knowledge of these prophetic events and apparently the wise men of that area were more diligent than the Jews in studying the prophecies.

Much speculation has been made about the star they saw: was it a nova, a conjunction of two or more planets, or something miraculous. We believe it was not a natural phenomenon, for it is difficult to understand how such a heavenly body which rises and sets every night, tracing the same course across the heavens, could have been a means of guiding the Magi, and especially of pinpointing the very house in which the child lay. It seems more likely that it was a manifestation of the Shekinah glory of God which appeared as a point of light similar to that of a very bright star but which must have been at a much lower elevation, so that it would stand over the very house where Jesus was. The miraculous Light had appeared before, as the glory cloud to give light to Israel when they came out of Egypt, in the most holy place of the tabernacle and temple, from which it departed in the days of Ezekiel (Ezek. 10:4-19). Now the One had come who was the embodiment of the Shekinah glory (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4-6).

5. The Childhood of Jesus (References: Matt. 2:23; Lk. 2:40-52)

This period covers approximately ten to twelve years in the life of Jesus which is passed over in silence except for one event when Jesus was twelve years of age. It is recorded by Luke that Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year to attend the feast of Passover, but there is no record that Jesus went with them except on the occasion when He was twelve years old. After the feast when the family started their journey home, they didn’t notice that Jesus was not in the company until the end of the first day. Discovering His absence, they retraced their steps and searched everywhere in Jerusalem without success, everywhere except in the Temple. They surely wouldn’t expect to find a twelve year old boy in the Temple. It was the last place they looked after three days of frantic searching, and to their amazement there He was answering and questioning the great theologians of the day. Even the doctors of the Law were astonished at His knowledge. His mother remonstrated with Him, “Son, why hast thou dealt thus with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” But He answered them: “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what He meant. After that Jesus submitted Himself to His earthly parents, went home with them, and was subject to them until the time that He should be revealed to Israel.

A. The Humanity of Jesus Christ. Luke’s gospel emphasizes the humanity of Christ. Christians are sometimes afraid to speak of the humanity of Christ, for fear they will be accused of denying His Deity. But He was the God-man and we must give equal emphasis to His humanity and His Deity. The fact of the Incarnation is stated in Scripture, but the how of it is not. How the eternal Son of God could become a human body, helpless in His mother’s arms, how the One who existed in the form of God from all eternity could grow, and wax strong in spirit (vs. 40), how He could increase in wisdom and stature is a mystery we can never fathom. His conception by the Holy Spirit was miraculous, but from there on as far as His humanity was concerned, everything was natural. The nine-month period of gestation was normal, as with any pregnancy. His birth was normal and natural. There was no halo about His head as He lay in the manger. He looked like any other Jewish child of His day. He no doubt had to learn to walk and to talk like any other child. His body grew and became larger and stronger. His human mind increased in wisdom and knowledge. But, we ask, how could this be if He was the eternal Son of God? We cannot explain the how, but we can understand from the Word the necessity of His taking upon Himself a true human nature and a body of flesh and blood, so that as a Man He might die for our sins and shed His human blood, and so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, and become the One Mediator between God and man.

Very early in the Christian era heresies arose over the Person of Christ. There were those who taught that Jesus was just a man but that the Christ spirit came upon Him at His baptism and then left Him at His death. Others taught that Jesus was not a true human being, but that He was a sort of apparition, appearing as a man but without an actual human body. Still others thought that Jesus was a kind of mixture of human and divine, half God and half man. Yet others held that the Divine Spirit took the place of the human spirit in Jesus. These controversies raged for four hundred years until finally in 451 A.D. at the Church Council of Chalcedon the orthodox statement was formulated from Scripture, holding that in the one Person of Jesus Christ there are two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, each in its completeness and integrity, and that these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no third nature is formed thereby. We must not divide His Person or confound His Natures. Jesus Christ is unique. There is no other person with whom to compare Him. We must simply believe what God has told us about Him in His infallible Word. To rationalize and try to explain Him is futile. We might as well try to put the whole ocean in a bucket. If we could explain Jesus Christ, He would be but a finite being unworthy of our adoration and worship.

B. Jesus Called a Nazarene. Matthew simply tells us that Jesus came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. Strangely enough, there is no recorded statement in the prophets that the Messiah was to be called a Nazarene. Matthew does not say it was written in the prophets, but spoken by the prophets, so it may be that the prophets had announced this orally but had never written it. Others take it to mean that Nazareth was despised by most Jews, on the basis of John 1:46, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?,” and therefore a Nazarene means a despised one, and the prophets predicted Messiah would be despised and rejected of men.

6. The Eighteen Silent Years at Nazareth Until the Age of 30 (Reference: Lk. 2:51; 3:23)

The Gospels are completely silent concerning this period in the life of Jesus from the age of 12 to 30 years. We know that Joseph was a carpenter by trade, for the people asked: “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” (Matt. 13:55). And it is evident that Jesus Himself worked in the carpenter’s shop, for in Mk. 6:3 the question is asked: “Is not this the carpenter?” referring to Jesus. If the Gospels were mere human productions they would no doubt contain much about the youthful life of Jesus. God’s design, however, was not to tell of the work His earthly (legal) father gave Him to do, but the work His heavenly Father sent Him to do. Hence His years up to the age of 30 are passed over in silence, except for the visit to the temple at the age of twelve.
(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 9)

FEAR

9

LEARNING TO BE CONTENT

We now close this series by focusing on our most essential weapon. The Christian’s Excalibur against the dragon Anxiety is named Contentment. It likewise is the banner under which Christ’s troops advance to personal victory.

As we saw earlier, the Bible speaks of contentment not only as a virtue but also as a command. Nowhere is that clearer than in Paul’s closing comments to the Philippian church. He had just told them never to succumb to anxiety (Phil. 4:6) and then went on to illustrate how with a glimpse from his own life:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that … you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (vv. 10–19)

In the context of this inspired thank-you note, it is clear Paul knew what it was to be content. At the time of this writing Paul was a prisoner under house arrest in Rome. He was chained to a Roman soldier twenty-four hours a day. He had little of what this life considers benefits, but still he was content. “The peace of God” (Phil. 4:7) and “the God of peace” (v. 9) were obvious realities in Paul’s life. They can likewise be in ours as we learn how to be content.

INDEPENDENCE

The Greek word translated “content” (autark∑s [ ]) means “to be self-sufficient,” “to be satisfied,” “to have enough.” It indicates a certain independence and lack of need for help. Sometimes it was used to refer to a person who supported himself or herself without anyone’s aid.

Paul was saying, “I have learned to be sufficient in myself—yet not in myself as myself, but as indwelt by Christ.” He elsewhere expressed that subtle distinction: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ and contentment go together.

SECRETS TO CONTENTMENT

Notice that Paul said, “I have learned to be content.… I have learned the secret” (Phil. 4:11–12). Paul became privy to the secret of contentment, and it’s one he passed on to all who have been initiated by faith in Jesus Christ. Here are its key facets:

Confidence in God’s Providence

Paul said, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that … you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity” (Phil. 4:10). About ten years had passed since Paul was last in Philippi. Acts 16 relates what happened during his first visit.

Paul and his traveling companions met a businesswoman named Lydia and preached the gospel to her and her companions. Their conversion resulted in the formation of a church. During the early days of that church, Paul cast out a spirit of divination from a slave girl. The girl’s owners—livid over the loss of the income they had derived from her fortunetelling abilities—had Paul flogged, thrown into prison, and locked in stocks. Instead of complaining about the miserable situation in which he found himself, he praised God through thankful prayer and song far into the night.

God responded in an amazing way: He shook the foundations of the prison so violently that all its doors opened wide and the chains fell off the prisoners’ feet and wrists. That incredible experience, plus Paul’s incredible response to his dismal circumstances, led to the salvation of the jailer—and the jailer’s entire household. As the church at Philippi grew, it’s apparent that they helped fund Paul for further missionary outreach.

Our text in Philippians makes it clear, however, that it had been a while since they last were able to help support him in that endeavor. But that was fine with Paul. He knew it wasn’t that they lacked concern, but that they lacked “opportunity” (Gk., kairos). That’s a reference to a season or window of opportunity, not to chronological time.

The point is that Paul had a patient confidence in God’s sovereign providence. He was content to do without and wait on the Lord’s timing. He didn’t resort to panic or manipulation of others. Those things are never called for. Paul was certain that in due time God would order the circumstances so that his needs would be met. We can have that same certainty today.

Until we truly learn that God is sovereign, ordering everything for His own holy purposes and the ultimate good of those who love Him, we can’t help but be discontent. That’s because in taking on the responsibility of ordering our lives, we will be frustrated in repeatedly discovering that we can’t control everything. Everything already is under control however, by Someone far greater than ourselves.

A synonym for God’s providence is divine provision, but that’s a skimpy label for a complex theological reality. Providence is how God orchestrates everything to accomplish His purposes.

There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.

Contentment comes from learning that God is sovereign not only by supernatural intervention but also by natural orchestration. Appreciate the complexity of what God is doing every moment just to keep us alive. When we look at things from that perspective, we see what folly it is to think we can control our lives. When we give up that vain pursuit, we give up a major source of anxiety.

Paul was content because he had confidence in the providence of God. That confidence, however, never led him to a fatalistic “It doesn’t matter what I do” attitude. The example of Paul’s life throughout the New Testament is this: Work as hard as you can and be content that God is in control of the results.

Satisfaction with Little

Here is another secret to contentment from Paul’s life: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity” (Phil. 4:11–12). He appreciated the revived generosity of the Philippian church but wanted them to know he hadn’t been coveting it. He kept his wants or desires in check, not confusing them with his needs.

“Not that I speak from want” is another way of saying “I really don’t have any needs that aren’t being met.” Our needs as human beings are simple: food, clothing, shelter, and godliness with contentment. Scripture says to be content with the bare necessities of life.

That attitude is in marked contrast to the attitude of our culture. People today aren’t content—with little or much. The more people have, the more discontent they’re apt to be. Often, the most unhappy people you’ll meet are very wealthy. They seem to believe their needs can never be met. Unlike Paul, they assume their wants are needs. They’ve followed our materialistic culture’s lead in redefining human needs.

You’ll never come across a commercial or ad that tells you to eat food, drink water, or go to sleep. Mass media advertise items that are far more optional and discretionary, but you’d never know it from the sales pitch. The appeal isn’t “Wouldn’t you like to have this?” but “You need this!” If you expose yourself to such appeals without thinking, you’ll find yourself needing things you don’t even want! The goal of this kind of advertising is to produce discontent and make a sale.

To protect yourself, pay careful attention to whenever you attach the word need to something in your thoughts or speech. Edit any use of it that goes beyond life’s bare essentials. Paul did, and you can too. Thankfully regard any surplus as a blessing from God. You will be satisfied with little when you refuse to depend on luxuries the world redefines as needs.

Detachment from Circumstances

The one thing that steals our contentment more than anything else is trying circumstances. We crumble and lose our sense of satisfaction and peace when we allow our circumstances to victimize us. No doubt Paul was human and suffered that way too, but then he learned a different way: remaining content no matter what his circumstances were. “I have learned to be content,” he said, “in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). And he really meant whatever circumstances, for in the next verse he ran the gamut of extremes from great poverty to great wealth.

It’s possible for us as Christians to learn to be content in facing any situation in life. And we don’t have to wait for the next life to be able to do this. We do need to keep one foot in the next life, however. Paul said it this way: “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17–18 NIV). Paul endured many horrific circumstances (note his summary in 2 Cor. 11:23–33), but through them he learned to be content by having an eternal perspective. Realize any circumstance you face is only temporary. The energy you’re tempted to expend on it by getting anxious isn’t worth being compared to your eternal reward. Learn to be content by not taking your earthly circumstances too seriously. This is not always that easy to do, but worth practicing.

Being Sustained by Divine Power

Paul could face any earthly circumstance with this confident assurance: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). He had learned that no matter how difficult things get in this material world, every Christian has a spiritual undergirding.

In saying he could do all things through Christ, Paul was referring to endurance, not miraculous provision. He didn’t mean he could go on forever without eating or drinking. He couldn’t be battered five thousand times and still survive. There’s a limit to the physical hardships any human being can endure. Instead Paul was saying, “When I have come to the end of my own resources, then I experience the power of Christ to sustain me until a provision is made.” He believed in the promise of Isaiah 40:31: “Those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

Contentment is a by-product of distress. It comes when you experience the sustaining power of Christ when you simply have run out of steam: “To him who lacks might He increases power” (Isa. 40:29). We do well to experience enough difficulty in our lives to see Christ’s power on display in us.

Do you know how a pacemaker works? It kicks in when the heart it’s attached to doesn’t work right. It’s a sustaining power. We as believers have a reservoir of spiritual power that moves into action when we have come to the end of our resources. Therefore we can “do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).

You’ll learn contentment when you’ve stood in the valley of the shadow of death, when you’ve been at the brink, when you can’t resolve your problems, when you can’t eliminate the conflict, when you can’t fix your marriage, when you can’t do anything about the kids, when you can’t change your work environment, when you’re unable to fight the disease that’s wracking your body. That’s when you’ll turn to God and find the strength to get through the situation.

To add an important qualifier, however, if you’ve been living a life of sin and you’re now at the bottom of the pit where sin has led you, don’t expect the Lord to step in, put on a dazzling display of His power, and make you feel content. What He’s more apt to do is add corrective discipline to the pain that your circumstances have naturally produced. There’s no quick fix for a sinful pattern of living.

Preoccupation with the Well-Being of Others

If you live for yourself, you will never be content. Many of us don’t experience contentment because we demand our world to be exactly the way we want it to be. We want our spouse to fulfill our expectations and agenda. We want our children to conform to a prewritten plan we have ordained for them to fulfill. And we want everything else to fall into its perfect niche in the little cupboard where we compartmentalize every element of existence.

Paul prayed for the Philippians to have a different perspective. He began his letter to them with a prayer that their love for one another might be abundant (Phil. 1:9) and went on to give this practical advice: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). He wanted them to lose themselves by being preoccupied with the well-being of others. This was the example he gave to them and us:

“Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.

You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:14–19)

Even though Paul was assured of God’s providence, independent of his circumstances, and strengthened by divine power, he knew how to write a gracious thank-you note. He wanted the Philippians to know they had done a noble thing in caring for his needs. They were a poor church from Macedonia (an area whose poverty is described in 2 Cor. 8—9) that had apparently sent food, clothing, and money to Paul in Rome through Epaphroditus. Their generosity impressed Paul.

Notice what made him happiest of all about the gift: “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Phil. 4:17). He was more interested in their spiritual benefit than his material gain. Being comfortable, well fed, and satisfied weren’t Paul’s main concerns in life. Rather, he was interested in accruing eternal dividends to the lives of the people he loved. Here are the timeless scriptural principles that apply:

  • Proverbs 11:24–25: “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
  • Proverbs 19:17: “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.”
  • Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6: “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

Paul described the gift he had received as “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). He was using Old Testament imagery to say, “Not only did you give it to me, but you also gave it to God.” At the beginning of our passage, in verse 10, we noted how happy Paul was to receive the gift. His joy came not because he finally received what he had been wanting (as we saw in verse 11, he politely mentioned that he didn’t need it) but because the Philippians had given him something that honored God and would accrue to their spiritual benefit.

Their acts led Paul to say in closing, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). That is one of the most often-quoted verses of Scripture, but it needs to be set in its context. Paul was saying, “You gave to me in a way that left you in need. I want to assure you that God will not remain in your debt. He will supply all your needs.” It refers to material, earthly needs sacrificed by the Philippians that God in response to their sacrifice would amply replenish.

If you likewise “honor the LORD from your wealth … your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9–10). God’s not going to give you back spiritual blessings only and let you die of hunger. If you’re in Christ, the riches of God in glory are yours. That is why, as we learned in the first part of the series, we are not to be preoccupied with what we eat, drink, or wear. Instead we are to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and … not [to] worry” (Matt. 6:33–34).

Attack anxiety in your life by applying what you have learned about contentment. Be confident in God’s sovereign providence, and don’t allow your circumstances to trouble you. Instead of giving in to panic, cling to the promise of Romans 8:28: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” Regard that verse as a spiritual lifeline for the rest of your life. Also, buck the tide of our materialistic, selfish society by being satisfied with little and being more concerned about the spiritual welfare of others than your material needs. Be obedient to God’s Word and confident in His power to meet all your needs. May our Lord keep all these principles in the forefront of our minds that we might be content—and free from anxiety!

DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 8)

FEAR

8

DOING ALL THINGS WITHOUT COMPLAINING

One of the first biblical passages we examined on anxiety was Paul’s straightforward command in Philippians 4:6: “Be anxious for nothing.” In the last two parts of this series, we will probe two other passages from Philippians. One comes before the command, and the other comes afterward. They bracket our understanding of how to attack anxiety by specifying a habit to avoid and an attitude to cultivate. Follow through with what you learn and you will see for yourself that Paul wasn’t issuing an impossible command. Our first text is: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Phil. 2:14–16).

Discontent in Society

We live in a society that loves to complain. Ironically, the most indulged society the world has known thus far is also the most discontent. The more people have, the more discontent they are apt to be with what they have—and these types don’t believe in silent suffering. We seem to be breeding a generation of complainers.

Most families in the Western World nowadays have either one or two children, if any. These small families in a materialistic society are apt to breed selfish, self-indulgent children. Picture this scene at the breakfast table: The mother asks her one or two children, “What would you like me to fix you to take to school for lunch?” One says peanut butter, the other says tuna. She says okay and starts preparing customized lunches. Before they leave for school, Mom asks, “What time will you be home? What time should I plan dinner?” The kids collaborate and say, “Let’s see, we’ll probably be home somewhere between four and five. Better make it five thirty.” At the dinner table of the modern family, after taking one bite, at least one of the kids will probably say, “I don’t like it. I want something else.”

If you were raised before the 1980’s or even the 1990’s, a different reality prevailed. When you got up in the morning and made it down to the kitchen, you got handed a bag. And when you left the house, your mother said to you, “Dinner is at five thirty. You’re here, you eat.”

The difference is that in most modern families, authority defers to the child. Before the 1990’s —in most instances, the child had to defer to authority. So what you have, is a generation growing up in an environment where authority defers to them. It is the unfortunate product of child-centered parenting.

When I was a child, I looked forward to growing up because I wanted my freedom. I was expected to conform to my surroundings, and I did. I ate what my parents gave me and wore whatever my mother brought home. I was eager to assume the responsibilities of adulthood so I could be free to make my own choices.

The reverse is now true. Children who grow up controlling the family environment don’t want to become adults because that means conformity for them. They don’t want to get a job because nobody at work is going to say, “How would you like your office decorated? And what time would you like to break for lunch?” Rather, they put you on an assembly line or in some other place, and you are expected to conform to their rules. No wonder we have a generation of young people who don’t want to grow up and leave home!

Ask the average high school or college student what he or she wants to do after graduation, and you’ll receive the usual response: So many of them feel this way because they’re postponing responsibility. The freedom of their childhood seems so much more attractive than conformity to a system. Their parents, although usually well meaning, are unwittingly training them to be irresponsible.

When reality hits, when children raised this way are finally forced to get a job, count on them to look for whatever offers the most amount of money for the least amount of work. They have no work ethic or sense of excellence for excellence’s sake. The objective of these adult children is to finance themselves so they can indulge in the things they enjoy. They try making the most out of the necessary evil of adulthood by collecting gadgets, boats, cars, vacation trips, and whatever else might reignite the flame of their lost childhood.

That is a hollow pursuit, however, because “not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions,” said Jesus (Luke 12:15). These adult children will feel empty inside and know that something is missing. Rather than seeing it’s because they’re emphasizing the physical at the expense of the spiritual, most will assume it’s because they don’t have enough—and whatever they have is never enough to these individuals! Moreover, their attitude is infectious, and that’s why our society tends to be critical.

The complaints have become more and more petty over time. Think about the things most people complain about, get anxious over, and even become enraged over. You may feel convicted. I know I’ve been guilty of letting some of these things bother me more than they should. Something as commonplace as a traffic jam can bring on incredible anger. Slow drivers in front of us and people who cut us off can be enough to make us fall back into sin! Talkative people irritate us. Long lines, short lines—any lines—drive us crazy. We want it our way, and we want it now!

Think how distressed people become over crying babies. Rather than accepting them as part of life, a terrible brooding discontent has led to a frightening increase in child abuse. Phone calls at inconvenient times, misplaced keys, non-housebroken puppies, stuck zippers, tight clothes, unsuccessful diets, being rushed or interrupted by someone—we get distressed by the biggies, don’t we?

Now if we’re in Hiroshima and it’s 1945, we have a problem worthy of considerable concern. But just because we lost out on a promotion, a business deal, or something else we wanted doesn’t mean we’re to complain about it and become anxious. We can surely find a way to survive, calm down, and review the situation. Our concerns are productive when they lead to a sensible course of action, but not when they lead to anxiety. Be aware that our concerns are far more apt to follow the path to anxiety and misery if accompanied by complaints.

It is a sin to complain against God, and we must see our complaints as such. “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God?” asked Paul rhetorically. “The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (Rom. 9:20). Complaining against God is out of place and completely inappropriate. Don’t be fooled into thinking only the worst blasphemers commit that sin. Isn’t it God we are really complaining against when we gripe about our circumstances? After all, He is the one who put us where we are. A lack of thankfulness and contentment is ultimately an attack on God.

Complainers have a devastating effect on the church. Some are apostates, whom Jude described as “grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts” (Jude v. 16). Their sin is so defiling because it is highly contagious. We find abundant proof of that in the Old Testament. Let’s consider it carefully so we can protect ourselves and our churches from descending into a morass of complaints, discontentment, anxiety, and misery.

Discontent in the Old Testament

This is the scene: The Israelites are in the wilderness, heading toward the Promised Land after God miraculously delivered them from centuries of bondage in Egypt. God tells them to occupy the land. Joshua, Caleb, and ten others spy out the land and give their report:

Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.… We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Then all the congregation … grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and … said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly.… Joshua … and Caleb … spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “… Do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land.… Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us.…” But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. (Num. 13:30—14:7, 9–10)

Those ten spies, those prophets of doom, kicked off nationwide discontent by complaining against what God had commanded them to do. What does Scripture say happened to them? “As for the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land and who returned and made all the congregation grumble … even those men who brought out the very bad report of the land died by a plague before the LORD” (Num. 14:36–37). Does that give you an idea of what God thinks about grumblers? They spread a noxious poison that quickly infects other people. They have the capability of setting into motion a group panic attack.

That happened many times in Israel’s history. Poor Moses had to suffer complaints regularly about his leadership and the food God provided for the people. According to Psalm 106, the complaints of the Israelites “tempted God in the desert.… They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe in His word, but grumbled in their tents.… Therefore He swore to them that He would cast them down in the wilderness, and that He would cast their seed among the nations” (vv. 14, 24–27). That divine judgment has dogged their nation throughout its history.

The New Testament makes it clear that the church is to learn from Israel’s mistake. After describing the incredible blessings Israel enjoyed from God’s hand, Paul stated, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things [are] examples for us, so that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved … nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed” (1 Cor. 10:5–6, 10).

Complaining is the symptom of a deep-seated spiritual problem—a failure to trust God and submit to His will. It is not a trivial matter: “The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar” (1 John 5:10). Here’s a better text to adhere to: “Why should any living mortal … offer complaint in view of his sins?” (Lam. 3:39). God has forgiven our sins, and the only proper way to say thank you is to be grateful. As we learned previously, a spirit of thanksgiving drives away anxiety—and also makes it hard to complain.

Contentment as a Command

We now have the background for understanding Paul’s command in Philippians 2:14: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” The “all things” refers to what Paul had said previously: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you” (vv. 12–13). In other words, while God is working in your life, be sure you never complain.

Life isn’t always going to serve us what we’d like. God will allow trials in our lives to help us pray, trust, and be grateful for what we have. Through it all, the Bible commands us to be content:

  • Luke 3:14: “Be content with your wages.”
  • 1 Timothy 6:6, 8: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.… If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (NIV).
  • Hebrews 13:5: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have.”

Two roadblocks to contentment are grumbling and disputing. The Greek word translated “grumbling” in Philippians 2:14 is gongusmos. It’s a grouchy, grumbly, onomatopoeic word. It sounds as grumpy as its meaning. It refers to murmuring, an expression of discontent and muttering in a low voice. It’s the word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament to describe the grumblings of Israel. It’s a complaint expressed with a negative attitude, an emotional rejection of God’s will.

The Greek word translated “disputing” (dialogismos) is more intellectual in nature. It refers to questioning and criticism.

This is when emotional bellyaching turns into a debate with God (as it did with Job). We start arguing with God about why things are the way they are or why we have to do what we’re supposed to do. We think we have a better idea than God about the job, marriage, church, home, or any other situation we’re in.

Paul said there’s a better way to live—working out our Christian life without complaining. It’s an attitude more in tune with life as it is. We are living in a fallen world. It isn’t always going to be the way we like it, and the people around us aren’t always going to be the way we’d like them to be. When we complain about them, we offend God and position ourselves for His judgment. James warned, “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door” (James 5:9). Imagine a little kid in his room complaining to his sister, “Boy, I sure hate the way Dad treats us.” But what he doesn’t know is that Dad is standing right outside the door! God, likewise, is always in earshot of our complaints.

The Reasons behind the Command

It would be wrong to conclude, however, that God is always waiting to get us. In His Word He not only tells us that He hates complaining, but He also makes it very clear why. He wants us to see that the reasons are as dear to our own hearts as to His and are clearly in our best interests.

Stop Complaining for Your Own Sake

A literal translation of the Greek text in Philippians 2:14–15 is: “Stop complaining in order that you may become blameless, innocent children of God.” There is a process here. Salvation has past, present, and future aspects to it. These verses refer to the present aspect. As God does His work in us, our part is not to complain.

Ask yourself a couple of questions: Whom do I belong to? Whose name do I bear? As Christians, we are to live consistently with who we are. Don’t you know who your heavenly Father is? How can you act like that? Keep that in mind the next time you’re tempted to become anxious or complain. Hold your head up high and realize that God has destined you for something better. You have been created to reflect His nature.

Stop Complaining for the Sake of Non-Christians

Paul explained that we reflect God’s nature to “prove [ourselves] to be … children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Phil. 2:15–16). How we live has a dramatic effect not only on whether we’re consistent with who we are as children of God, but also on how we affect the world around us.

This statement addresses our evangelistic mandate and is the heart of Paul’s appeal. A simple definition of evangelism is God’s children shining as lights in a dark world. Doing that effectively involves two things: content and character. It’s not just what we say but what we are.

If you are a godly, obedient Christian, you will have an almost startling effect on most people. They will feel the light, and some may even shy away from it because it is so obvious that you possess something they don’t possess. Others will be attracted to it because they have a yearning to be something better than what they are. Their fate is inextricably intertwined with how we live our lives. As John Donne wrote hauntingly, “No man is an island, entire of itself” (“Meditation 17”). That is especially true of the Christian. A few sentences later Donne affirmed, “I am involved in mankind.” For the Christian, that is more than a resolve; it is a statement of fact.

The quality of your life is the platform of your personal testimony. A murmuring, discontent, grumbling, griping, and complaining Christian is never going to have a positive influence on others. It’s incongruous to be talking about the gospel of forgiveness, joy, peace, and comfort, yet be moaning and complaining much of the time. Give people more credit than that: They aren’t going to believe the gospel until they see it do what you say it will do. “Show me your redeemed lives, and I might be inclined to believe in your Redeemer” is a valid challenge for any non-Christian to make.

As said earlier, the equation for evangelism is character plus content. While appearing as lights in the world, we simultaneously are to be “holding fast the word of life” (Phil. 2:16). It is the Word of God that gives life. Since the people of the world are spiritually dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1), there is nothing they need more.

Stop grumbling, said Paul. Stop arguing with God. Obey Him joyfully. In the process of shining as lights in the world, you will find there will be a ready reception, because a transformed life is the greatest advertisement for the gospel. A negative, griping, complaining spirit is the worst.

Try your best to make it through today without complaining about something. Make a note every time you do complain. You may be surprised to discover it has become a way of life. In addition to being highly contagious to others, a complaining spirit has an anesthetic effect on whoever possesses it. It quickly becomes so habitual that most people infected by it don’t even realize what a dominant characteristic it has become.

Put a check on the complaints you utter, and you will succeed in attacking anxiety at its source. You will be affirming that God knows what He is doing in your life. To hear yourself complain is to hear yourself affirm the contrary. The more you hear yourself talk like that, the more you’ll believe it. For peace of mind, stop it now.

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (5)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER I (CONTINUE)

THE PREPARATORY PERIOD

EXPOSITION (CONTINUE)

1.     Annunciation and Birth of John the Baptist

(Reference: Lk. 1:5-25; 57-80)

Luke alone gives an account of the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zacharias, belonged to the priestly tribe of Levi, as did his mother, Elizabeth. (This is not the same Zachariah as the prophet in the Old Testament.) They were advanced in years and Elizabeth had never been able to have children. Back in the days of King David the priesthood had been divided into twenty-four courses, each course serving in the temple for one week, twice a year (1 Chron. 24:10). While in the holy place an angel appeared unto him and announced that Elizabeth would bear a son who would have the spirit and power of Elijah and was to be named John. Zacharias just could not believe such a thing could happen, and for that reason he was stricken dumb until the prophecy should be fulfilled.

Zacharias went home to his wife after his service in the temple, and she conceived and in due time the child was born. On the eighth day the relatives and neighbors gathered for the circumcision ceremony and they all called his name Zacharias after his father, but Elizabeth said, “Not so, but he shall be called John.” They remonstrated with her that none of her kinfolk bore that name, and then asked Zacharias what name he wanted the child to have. He called for a writing pad and wrote, “His name is John,” and immediately his speech was restored. The people marvelled and fear came upon them and all wondered what manner of child this would be, as the story spread throughout the hill country of Judea.

Then Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and he began to prophesy. His prophecy concerned the Messiah who was not yet born and his own son John. Even though Jesus would not be born for another six months, Zacharias praised God for rising up a Horn of salvation for Israel in the house of His servant David. It is most important to note that Zacharias, filled with the Holy Spirit, brings the same message as did the O.T. prophets concerning God’s promise to the nation of Israel for a physical, earthly kingdom. Theologians of the Post-millennial and Amillennial schools claim that the Jews were greatly mistaken in supposing that God intended to establish them in a literal, material kingdom. They claim that all of these promises which the Jews took literally must be spiritualized. Thus, they teach that Jesus came only to establish a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men. But what did the Spirit-filled Zacharias in the N.T. say?

“As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Lk. 1:70-75).

Although the actual word “kingdom” does not occur in this passage, it is plainly intimated by the reference to this Deliverer who is raised up in the house of David, and by the twice repeated reference to salvation, not only from sin, but from Israel’s enemies. But it is argued that these could not be physical enemies, such as the Romans, because the Jews were never delivered from them. What proponents of this objection fail to understand is that this deliverance was conditioned upon Israel’s repentance and acceptance of the Messiah. These conditions become evident later on in the preaching of Jesus and of the apostles, (cf. Lk. 19:41-44; Acts 3:18-26). The fact that the generation of Israel rejected the Messiah does not mean that these national promises of the kingdom will never be fulfilled. God swore with an oath to Abraham and He promised David that even though Israel failed He would finally restore His kingdom, (2 Sam, 7:5-17). Therefore, this Davidic covenant must yet be fulfilled.

Zacharias also prophesied that John would be called the prophet of the Highest, to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, and to give the knowledge of salvation unto Israel by the remission of their sins. All what we are told of his childhood is that he grew and became strong in spirit and lived in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

2.     Annunciation and Birth of Jesus

(References: Matt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-56; 2:1-20; John 1:14)

Luke also tells of the annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel. It took place six months after Elizabeth had conceived John. This is the first “hail Mary.” Roman Catholics have repeated it millions of times since then.

Truly, Mary was highly honored to be chosen to be the mother of the humanity of God’s Son, but the high honor bestowed upon her, exalting her as immaculately conceived and higher than Christ himself, substituting her as the intercessor between God and man, when Scripture states there is only one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5), is an invention of the Roman Church.

When the angels said, “Thou hast found favor with God,” he used the word which is almost always translated “grace.” This is the first time grace is mentioned in the N.T. and one of the eight times it is used in Luke, which may indicate the influence of the Apostle of Grace upon Luke. Mary needed the grace of God just like any other human. If Mary had been sinlessly conceived as Romanists aver, she would not have needed a Savior; but in the Magnificat she exclaims: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (vs. 47).

Matthew says nothing about the annunciation to Mary but he does tell us that Mary was espoused to Joseph and that she was found to be with child before they had come together. According to the law Joseph could have called for her death (Deut. 22:20-24), but because he was a just man he decided to follow Deut. 24:1 and put her away quietly. But an angel appeared unto him in a dream and told him not to fear to take Mary to himself, because the conception had been by the power of the Holy Spirit and the child should be named Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins. Upon awaking, Joseph took Mary as his wife, but had no sex relations with her until she had brought forth her firstborn. Catholic doctrine refuses to accept this plain statement of Matt. 1:25. Mary had other children after Jesus was born. Ch. 13:55,56 names four brothers of Jesus as well as sisters.

Matt. 1:22 is the first of the many “that it might be fulfilled” statements in Matthew. Here the fulfillment is the Virgin Birth as predicted in Isa. 7:14.

Returning to Luke’s account in ch. 1:32,33 God makes it abundantly clear that the N.T. and the O.T. are in perfect agreement on the subject of Israel’s promised kingdom. God is going to give to Jesus the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Some theologians claim we today are spiritual Israelites but we have never heard any claim to be spiritual Jacobites. Jacob was his natural name: Israel his divinely given name. Christ is going to reign over the house of Jacob. Notice too that the Kingdom will have no end. The Millennial form of the Kingdom will have an end, but the Kingdom will continue after that in the new earth without end. After the last enemy is subjugated under the feet of Jesus, there will be no further need of Jesus to reign with a rod of iron, as in the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15, cf. 1 Cor. 15:26-28).

Luke gives a very detailed account of the actual birth of Jesus, which might be expected from a medical doctor. His mention of the taxation which was made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria helps to tie in the birth of Christ with secular history and it provides another example of the Providence of God: how He works through seemingly unrelated events to bring about His ends. It was because of the taxation that Joseph and Mary had to take the journey down to Bethlehem to enroll and while there Mary’s time to be delivered came. Thus, Jesus was born in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth and a prophecy uttered 700 years earlier was fulfilled (Mic. 5:2). One would have thought that God would see to it that His Son was born in the most pleasant and commodious surroundings, perhaps in the palace of the king, but this was the first step in His humiliation. There was no room in the inn, so He was born in a stable (cf. Phil. 2:5-8).

Luke also is the one who has given us the beautiful store of the shepherds. It was a joyous announcement: “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” But before the ministry of Christ had ended He was being rejected by Israel, so that He had to change all of that joyous message and instead ask: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division” (Lk. 12:51). It has been said that there can be no lasting peace on earth until Israel is established in her land, until Christ is in His rightful place on the throne of David, and until Satan is in his appointed place, the lake of fire.

There has been much controversy over the date of Christ’s birth. There are several logical arguments against the traditional date of Dec. 25 for the birth of Christ. It is argued that the shepherds would not be abiding in the open fields with their flocks in the dead of winter, not only because of the cold nights (it does snow in Jerusalem), but because there would be no pasturage at that season. It is also argued that the Roman government would not choose a time for the enrollment when it would be most difficult for the people to travel back to their own cities. And then the improbability of Mary in her condition taking this trip on donkey-back of some seventy miles in the winter is pointed out. From May through October there is no rain in Israel, but in December the almost continuous winter rains set in which continue through February. The hill country through which they travelled had an average elevation of 3000 feet. Such a journey through cold rains and even snow would surely have been a most difficult trip for a woman ready to give birth to a child.

It may at first seem strange that Mary who belonged to the tribe of Judah had a cousin, Elizabeth, who belonged to the priestly tribe of Levi. Edersheim, an authority on Jewish matters, states:

There can be no question, that both Joseph and Mary were of the royal lineage of David. Most probably the two were nearly related, while Mary could also claim kinship with the Priesthood, being, no doubt, on her mother’s side, a blood relative of Elizabeth, the Priest-wife of Zacharias. Even this seems to imply that Mary’s family must shortly before have held higher rank, for only with such did custom sanction any alliance on the part of Priests.

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

THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY PART 14

BASIC PROPHECY

THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH

The millennial reign of Christ will serve as the front porch to eternity. It will be the initial phase of God’s eternal Kingdom. When the Millennium culminates, the final state of God’s prophetic program will be ushered in with the destruction of the present heaven and earth and the creation of a new heaven and new earth.

The heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, a 1,500-mile cube the size of a continent, will come down out of heaven and sit upon the new earth as the capital city of the new universe. The Lord will reign forever, and His people will serve Him and reign with Him for eternity.

REVELATION 21–22

After the millennial kingdom and the Great White Throne Judgment, the same God who created this present heaven and earth will destroy it and create a new heaven and new earth, ushering in the eternal state.

Before the new heaven and new earth can be created, the present heaven and earth must be destroyed. The old heaven and the old earth will disappear. The Bible mentions this event several times (Psalm 102:25-26; Isaiah 34:4; 51:6; Matthew 24:35; 2 Peter 3:7,10-13; Revelation 21:1).

After the present order is destroyed, God will put it all back together again. The Bible does not tell us a great deal about the eternal state.

TWELVE THINGS THAT WILL NOT BE THERE

  1. No more sea—because all chaos and disorder (symbolized by the sea in ancient times) will be gone (Revelation 21:1)
  2. No more tears—because all hurt will be removed (Revelation 21:4)
  3. No more death—because mortality is swallowed up by life (Revelation 21:4)
  4. No more mourning—because all sorrow will be perfectly comforted (Revelation 21:4)
  5. No more crying—because joy will reign supreme (Revelation 21:4)
  6. No more pain—because all diseases will be expelled (Revelation 21:4)
  7. No more thirst—because every desire will be satisfied (Revelation 21:6)
  8. No more wickedness—because all evil will be banished (Revelation 21:8, 27)
  9. No more Temple—because God will be everywhere (Revelation 21:22)
  10. No more night—because the glory of God will shine (Revelation 21:23-25; 22:5)
  11. No more closed gates—because God’s door will always be open (Revelation 21:25)
  12. No more curse—because the death of Christ has lifted it (Revelation 22:3)

THE CAPITAL OF THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH (REVELATION 21:9–22:5)

As John looks at the new heaven and new earth in his vision, the spotlight shifts suddenly to a descending metropolis, the new Jerusalem, the Holy City coming down out of heaven from God.

This city is the current dwelling place of God, the angels, and the souls of departed saints, yet one day it will descend to the new earth (Revelation 21:2-3). The new Jerusalem will be the capital of the eternal state. It will be the metropolis of eternity.

The glory of God will be the main feature of this city (Revelation 21:11, 23). The heavenly city described in Revelation 21–22 is the third heaven that Paul visited in 2 Corinthians 12. It is the place that Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-3). It is the Father’s house in which there are many dwelling places.

Hebrews 12:22-24 describes the residents of God’s new world. There are three identifiable groups in the new Jerusalem besides God Himself and Jesus: angels, church-age believers (“the assembly of God’s firstborn children”), and the rest of the people of God from the other ages (“the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect”). All who by God’s grace have trusted in the person and promises of God will be in heaven.

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (4)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER I

THE PREPARATORY PERIOD

RESUME

What we have called the Preparatory Period includes the Introductions to the Gospel accounts, the Genealogies of Jesus, the Annunciation and Birth of both John the Baptist and of Jesus, the Infancy of Jesus, His childhood until the age of twelve when He visited Jerusalem with His parents, and the silent years at Nazareth until the age of thirty.

EXPOSITION

  1. Introductory Statements References: Matt. 1:1-17; Mk. 1:1; 1:1-4; 3:23-38; John 1:1-13

Each of the Gospels presents certain introductory materials.

Matthew begins by tracing the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham through David down to Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born. The genealogy is given in three sections of fourteen generations each: from Abraham to David, from David to Josiah, and from Josiah to Jesus. Actually, there are more than fourteen generations in each, according to the O.T., but for purposes of design, some of the generations were dropped by Matthew. It should be noted that in every case from Abraham to Joseph the expression “begat” is used, but it is not said’ that Joseph begat Jesus, for Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit before Joseph and Mary came together. Joseph is said to have been the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.

Mark begins very bluntly without any introduction: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Servant is the Son of God.

Luke begins by informing us of the source of his information about Jesus. He addresses his Gospel to Theophilus. The name may refer to an individual, or the address may be to any lover of God, for that is the meaning of the name. We learn from Luke that many men had attempted to set in order a narrative of Christ’s life. He was not speaking of either Matthew’s or Mark’s Gospel, but of uninspired, pseudo-gospels. Luke was a man of science and he collected his information in a scientific manner. He interviewed those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning of the life of Jesus. He claims to have had perfect understanding of all things from the very first. The expression “from the very first” is the Greek word anothen, which is translated elsewhere “from above,” five times, and “the top,” three times. If this more usual meaning is applied to this passage, it makes Luke say that he had received perfect knowledge of these things from above, that is, by Divine revelation. This view is adopted in the Scofield Reference Bible.

Luke also gives a genealogy, but it is placed later at the very beginning of the ministry of Jesus, (3:23-38). It begins with Jesus and traces His line all the way back to Adam, the first man. It is instructive to note that Paul goes back to Adam when teaching the subject of reconciliation. Paul comprehends the whole human race under the headship of one or the other of just two men: the first man Adam, and the second man, the Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Cor. 15:22,45-47; Rom. 5:12-19). Matthew traces Christ’s genealogy through David’s son, Solomon; whereas Luke carries it through another son of David, Nathan. Matthew states that Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary; whereas Luke states that Joseph was the son of Heli. Heli was apparently the father of Mary and Joseph was the son-in-law of Heli. Thus, the genealogy is Mary’s line of descent. Thus both Joseph and Mary were descendants of King David. It should be noted that in Joseph’s genealogy there is a king by the name of Jeconiah, or Coniah, as he is called in Jer. 22:28- 30, who was the last of the Davidic line to reign over Judah. In the Jeremiah passage it is stated: “Thus saith the Lord, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.” Had Joseph been the actual father of Jesus (he was His legal father), this curse would have fallen upon Jesus. But the mother of Jesus was also descended from David through a line ‘that is free from this curse. Thus, it was not an arbitrary choice which God made for the human mother of His Son. She was the only one, married to Joseph, who would have overcome this curse.

John introduces Jesus as the Word or Logos, as having eternally existed with God. The term “Logos” was used by the philosophers of the day to signify impersonal Reason which operated between God and the material creation as the mediating principle. But John shows the true Logos to be personal, the eternal Son of God who communicates God to man. Just as words are the means of communicating one’s thoughts to another, so Christ as the Word is the Revealer of God to man.

When John says that the Word “was” in the beginning, the verb used means “existed,” without any thought of coming into being. This is in contrast to the word used in 1:14,’where the Word “was made” or “became” flesh. The Word as a Person always existed, but as a Man He became or came into being. That the Word is co-existent with God is also seen in the fact that He made everything that has ever been made, which must exclude the Maker from having been made, and in the further fact “that in him was life.” He was not merely alive: He is life, the originator and giver of life. Translate vs. 9: “That was the true Light coming into the world, which enlightens every man …”

It should be noted that John begins where the other Evangelists leave off, for in the very first chapter he announces Israel’s rejection: “He came unto his own and his own received him not, but as many as received him, to them he gave the authority to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John wrote his Gospel near the end of the first century, well into the present Church Age. For that reason, it seems to be a sort of bridge from the earthly, life of Christ to the present Divine order. John places special emphasis upon the death of Christ and upon belief or faith as the basis of salvation, truths which are especially emphasized by Paul in the gospel of the grace of God.

Thus, we can see that John’s Gospel has a much closer relationship and application to believers in this present Pauline dispensation of the grace of God than do the Synoptics. John wrote to people who were living almost thirty years after the death of the Apostle Paul, which was many years after the new revelation was given through. It is our belief that John was guided by John does not reveal Body of truth, as such, but, as stated earlier, he begins where the Synoptics end, and places special emphasis upon believing, upon the Deity of Jesus Christ, upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit, upon the oneness of believers in Christ, upon the universality of the Gospel. It is for these and similar reasons that the Gospel of John has been distributed so widely as a separate Scripture portion in evangelistic efforts. And it is for this reason we have expressed the belief that John’s Gospel provides a bridge between the former and the present dispensations.

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