April 12, 2017
[Sent 3/24/17 to the same “preacher” I was addressing in my last two posts.]
I did not miss what you sent. I’ve carefully read everything you’ve sent to me. This time I underlined and made black Isaiah 65:17 and 20 that you sent me below. I’m not sure why you won’t answer my specific question about why there is still death (dying at a hundred will be considered an early death) even after the new heavens and the new earth are created. I would really like to know the answer.
I don’t think I’m to understand that you are saying that we Christ-followers are now living in the new heavens and the new earth, right? I don’t think you’re saying that, for certainly you must believe along with me that creation itself is still groaning and waiting for us and it to be (fully, including physically) redeemed (Rom. 8:19-24) “until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21) –For “He must remain in Heaven until the time comes…” (same verse) and then come back (v. 20,21) “in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (1:11) –Visibly. (v. 9 // Zech. 14:4-9)
Here is my question again and I italicized and made bold what I am emphasizing in my question:
I wonder, do you allegorize all of Isaiah 65:17-25 or just parts of it? For there God says, “‘Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth… I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in My people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more… he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed… They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune… The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox… They will neither harm nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ says the LORD.”
You yourself, in your 3/15, 4:03 p.m. email, quoted Rev. 21:4 and said that there will be no more death in the new heavens and the new earth, meaning you do not allegorize this promise found in God’s Word. So… the rest of my question:
While considering verse 17 of Isaiah ch. 65, and that there is no marriage or death for those considered worthy of taking part in the age following the resurrection of the dead (which is what Jesus teaches in Luke 20:34-38), then why in this Isaiah passage is there death (after prolonged life) and the bearing of children during the age of the new heavens and the new earth?
Thank you for your time,
April 2, 2017
This post is a continuation of my March 28th post which was a copy of the first part of my 3/12/17 email to the person whose website I contacted to thank them for preaching obedience to Christ, but who deemed me one to be shunned based on my teaching about Israel and the 1,000 year earthly, bodily reign of Christ. The correspondence that ensued somewhat alarmed me as it revealed the apparent continued and growing division between those who believe God will absolutely bring to pass His promises to the nation of Israel and those who do not believe that God will do this because He has negated those promises as applicable for Israel by transferring them to the (mostly Gentile) Church who is in Christ. I have noticed that often those in this latter group scoff at those who take God’s promises at face-value. Here is the second half of my March 12th email:
About teaching: Those of us who explain, by the Spirit, God’s Word, are teachers. Indeed, Jesus has commanded us to go everywhere, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:20) When Rom. 8:9 informs us that if we possess the Spirit of Christ we will be controlled by Him, this means He controls our actions and thoughts, as well as our words and writings. I caution both of us to keep this in mind at all times, for yes, we have the continued choice to submit to Him or to submit to our own impulses and judgements.
Therefore, we are only to say what is in line with the Truth and what the Holy Spirit leads us to say, “because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) We are not to lord it over others as if we have that right, for we don’t (Mt. 20:25,26), even if we are ahead of others in our learning process (John 16:13), including “in what is yet to come.” (Same verse) Thus everything is to be done in meekness, gentleness, and respect. (1 Pe. 3:16) There are times we may need to rebuke someone, but we better know without a doubt that the Holy Spirit has actually given us the specific command to do so and we’d better do it in just the manner and attitude He instructs.
You say that you have had many battles with false teachers, but, I trust you know that contending for the faith does not mean we should be contentious. Instead, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (Pr. 10:11) and, “The lips of the righteous nourish many.” (v. 21) It is “gracious words [that] promote instruction.” (16:21) It is words void of insult that make one’s words persuasive. (Same verse) We are to explain the Truth to people without making judgements that we’ve not been authorized to make. As Rom. 14:4 says, “Who are you, judging Another’s servant? To his own Master, he stands or falls. However, he will be upheld, for indeed, the Lord is able to make him stand.”
As we exhort others to obey all of God’s Word, let’s make sure we are obeying all of it as well, including, “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him, speaks against the law and judges it… There is only one Lawgiver and Judge… But you –who are you to judge your neighbor?” (Ja. 4:11,12) And, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (5:9)
In explaining the true walk of Salvation, we are not to engage in quarreling (2 Tim. 2:23), and “quarreling about words… only ruins those who listen.” (v. 14) “He who loves a quarrel loves sin,” (Pr. 17:19) and it is “pride that breeds quarrels.” (13:10) In that Gal. 5:19-21 warning (about the acts of the sinful nature that result in Hell), strife, discord, contentions, dissensions / disagreements, and factions are also listed. Quarreling, particularly about whose teachings we adhere to, reveals that immaturity and worldliness are still present. (1 Cor. 3:1-4) Therefore, “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct…” (2 Tim. 2:24,25)
I’m saddened that you find my writings wordy and that you seem bent on discouraging me in my efforts to spread the Truth. Even so, I am encouraged daily by The Teacher and my Shepherd, given confidence from Him that I do write His Truth, even as I ask Him about every single word I write. I do not take Scripture’s warnings lightly.
May the Lord bless all Christ-followers who faithfully and carefully serve Him in furthering His Truth.
March 28, 2017
Over this last month I’ve been corresponding with someone who, although he teaches the importance of obedience to Christ, made the Israel / Millennium issue a point of division. On March 10 I posted an email I’d written to him that day, he wrote back the next day, and now here is the first half of my response to him on March 12:
I appreciate you asking me to forgive you if you misjudged me and showed a carelessness concerning Christlike love. I don’t believe it was “if”, but of course I forgive you and I hope you mean you have turned from doing that. Remember, I emailed Mike to encourage him and thank him; not to ask him to evaluate my beliefs, and certainly not to quarrel. In deep sincerity I want his core message –surrounding the necessity of obedience to Christ– to spread. Truly he is skilled in explaining things clearly.
I do agree with the foundation of what Mike teaches. I definitely do not believe in original sin and when I begun writing messages in 1994 (my short tracts for my evangelizing) I contemplated for quite some time about what term to use in passages that speak of the flesh’s sinful desires. To use the word “flesh”, however, creates another problem (with people thinking our body itself has a sin-disease) where people then tend to (wrongly) accept that the spirit is pure while the body can keep sinning. I think both terms lack clarity for people, but “sinful nature” is what is easier to say when I quote the verses while evangelizing (or while writing posts). I do emphasize that one’s sinful nature comes about through a continued choice to sin and that if we have been born anew, we have crucified it and it is gone.
I am open to being corrected, as we all should be, but I cannot accept a correction regarding something about which God’s Word clearly teaches the opposite, and about which the Spirit of Truth has already instructed me extensively. The Lord allowed me to be pushed into searching the Truth regarding Israel and Christ’s in-the-body rule on earth because of the friend who kept antagonizing me about it. I told her it was not a subject I had studied much and that my emphasis of teaching was on obedience, but she persisted and considered it a dividing matter. So, I told her I would study it (again and thoroughly), which I did under the tutelage of the Spirit and the Word, and I came to the very opposite conclusion that she had. So, being that Christ-followers should not have to keep on learning over and over what we’ve already been taught by the Lord, “never able to arrive at the knowledge of the Truth” (2 Tim. 3:7), I trust you understand that I must believe God’s Word and Instruction over your views and words.
Consequently, when I read God’s words, “I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” (Amos 9:15), I believe Him. I’m not going to believe those who say that God meant, “I will plant the church in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.” Since God brought Jacob’s descendants back to the land several times, but then did uproot them for almost 2,000 years, I believe God when He says there is coming a time when they won’t be uprooted ever again.
As to the 1,000 years, I believe God’s Word again when Rev. 20:1-7 mentions the 1,000 years six times. That the 1,000 year reign would be recorded six times within seven verses is certainly an emphasis to its coming reality and should not be viewed as “just a fictitious idea”, as you call it. I caution you to remember Jesus’ warning “that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Mt. 12:36)
After the 1,000 year reign there will be another battle against the people and city God loves (Rev. 20:7-10), the devil will be thrown into the lake of burning sulphur (v. 10), earth and sky will flee from God’s presence (v. 11b) in great fiery destruction (2 Pe. 3:5-12), and the Great White Throne Judgement will take place. (Rev. 20:11-15) Then God will restore all things by making a new heaven and a new earth. (21:1 // Isa. 66:22 // Rom. 8:19-24 // 2 Pe. 3:13)
Indeed, “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom…” (Rom. 8:21); for Jesus “must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21) Yet you, _____, are trying to persuade me to disbelieve the holy prophets who spoke God’s promises in His name. Yes, I know that Christ-followers are participants of the spiritual Kingdom of God now, but that does not negate God’s promises to Israel or His promises to rule in person (Rev. 22:4) over all the nations. (21:22-26 // Isa. 9:6,7 // Zech. 14:16-21)
Friends, I encourage all of us to know well what God’s Word says –what the Lord commands as well as what He promises. For many false teachers are in the world and most of them, in being adamant that they are correct and that everyone needs to adhere to their interpretations, mock those of us who take the Word of God at face value. Truly, it is God’s words that we are to believe, not men’s words that contradict it.
March 10, 2017
My intention in emailing Mike was not to divide or to try to convince anyone of anything to do with Israel. That last post of mine about Israel was actually a copy of an email I sent to a friend who brought up the subject to me recently. It is interesting that the Lord had me post it and to do so right before my first email to Mike when I did not know it would be a point of contention.
Anyway, I understand your desire to hold to Mike’s teaching on it as you further his legacy. Even so, the last link I sent to you was not to attempt to convince you but to show you that I have studied the Israel subject from God’s Word extensively so that you do not bother trying to convert me to your view.
I emailed Mike (thus you, his present spokesman) in true sincerity, thanking him for his messages about the necessity of being purged of sin and walking obedient to Christ. Mike teaches, such as here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9xBDCjRpco, as I do concerning repentance, obedience, and freedom from sin, and wide disagreement concerning these is what creates, I understand, the “great divide” that he talks about. Instead of encouragement, though, I received a slight from you due to my teaching regarding Israel. I hope you do not do similar to other genuine followers of Christ. No one has perfect knowledge on every subject and I am convinced that the Lord allows this so that we do not follow any man, but only Him. As He taught us, “You are not to be called ‘teacher’, for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (Mt. 23:10)
Since you have made God’s promises to Israel an issue of division, I encourage you as well, to study, without bias, those promises found abundantly throughout Scripture. Truly, I cannot see how anyone can deny what God is saying to and about Israel. Rom. 11:25-29, along with its context, is just one passage that is unmistakably speaking of the race of Israel as opposed to the Gentiles. As it speaks of their present hardening, the patriarchs, and God’s irrevocable gifts and calling, the Israelite race is undeniably the focus of discussion there.
It is difficult to understand how any Bible believer could write off what God states in so many passages within His Word regarding the Israelite nation. For example, God devotes several chapters in Ezekiel (chapters 36-48) to reveal His plans about the future nation and temple and land of Israel. When we read the precise measurements which God told Ezekiel to write down concerning the land partitions and the temple construction, how can teachers write that off as figurative? –Or having been fulfilled in Nehemiah’s time, when it wasn’t?
No, there is no way to legitimately view these chapters as written to anyone other than the tribes of Joseph and Judah (Ezek. 37:19) of whom the Lord says, “I will bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.” (v. 21,22) To believe that this refers to the church is to disbelieve God’s clear words. God goes on about this joined nation: “I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them… They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived.” (v. 23,25a) This cleansing has not yet happened to Israel and to deny that this refers to the literal land and nation of Israel is to disbelieve God’s words. “They… will live there forever, and David My servant will be their Prince forever.” (v. 25b) Was God being disingenuous with the Israelites through the prophet Ezekiel, and not really planning to fulfill this promise? Was God promising the Israelites these things when He really meant He would give the church this land and that it would actually turn into a figurative land? Was God not making a distinction between nations when He said, “Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when My sanctuary is among them forever.”–? (v. 28)
In Ezekiel chapter 39 God is talking about literal “mountains of Israel” (v. 4), a literal war, a literal valley, and literal animals. We cannot read God’s words, “…when the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to Me” (v. 23) and still insist that God is not referring to the Israelites. We cannot read God’s words, “…for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide My face from them, for I will pour out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (v. 28,29) The church (Christ-followers) are not the ones who were sent into exile because of unfaithfulness to God. It was Israel. These chapters are about Israel and her future –when God cleanses them and comes to live among them forever. How can He stress it any more clearly?
Thus Paul says in Rom. 11:1,2, “I ask then, Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject His people, whom He foreknew.” Paul is taking about a tribe, a bloodline, and the Israelite race here, not the church. He is reminding his readers that the Israelites are God’s chosen people and that God has not rejected them, while in verses 12 and 15 he says that their return to God and His acceptance of them will bring greater blessing to the world than that which their temporary hardening brought. “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'” (v. 26) This promise is reiterated numerous times in the Old Testament, including in Ezekiel 36:24-32 and in 37:14, the latter verse being where God promises, “I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.” This promise is to “the whole house of Israel.” (v. 11) God is making promises to His chosen, elect nation descended from Jacob (Rom. 9:1-13); not to the church.
Jesus is of the Jewish physical bloodline (Rom. 9:5 & 15:12) and the Jews are God’s chosen people with whom all Christ-followers can participate with –in the blessings of salvation and knowing God. (11:17,18) This is why it says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people” (15:10), which makes a distinction between Jews –the chosen race, and Gentiles. We can see that regardless of there being one people (Body) unified in Christ (1 Cor. ch. 12), God still recognizes separate nations. As Rom. 15:12 says, “The root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.” And as Rev. 21:24 says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it [into the New Jerusalem].”
After the earth is laid bare and the new heavens and earth come (2 Pe. 3:7,10,13 // Rev. 21:1), there will no longer be a temple building in Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:22) However, before that there will be another temple, as the book of Ezekiel illustrates. There, while describing the new temple in detail as well as commands for the priests, God says, “This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile My holy name.” (Ezek. 43:7) In verse 10, God orders of Ezekiel, “Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins.” These chapters were written for and to Israel, the nation.
In speaking of the boundaries of the land, God says, “These are the boundaries by which you are to divide the land for an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel, with two portions for Joseph.” (Ezek. 47:13) To teach that this directive is to an imaginary twelve tribes of the church would be ludicrous. Verse 14 makes it doubly clear who the subjects of the promise are as God continues, “You are to divide it equally among them. Because I swore with uplifted hand to give it to your forefathers, this land will become your inheritance.” The forefathers God swore to give the land to were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and God swore to them that He would also give the land to their descendants (Gen. 13:15 & 35:12) “as an everlasting possession.” (17:8) God emphasized that these descendants were to come from their own bodies / be their physical offspring (15:4), “the children of the promise” (Rom. 9:8), and that Jacob’s descendants would, as a nation, repent. (Isa. 59:20,21 // Zech. 12:10-13:2 // Luke 1:67-75 // Rom. 11:25-27 // Heb. 8:8-12)
Chapter 48 of Ezekiel (the last chapter of the book) are directives from God about the exact divisions of the land for each tribe, specific geographical locations included therein, as well as the measurements of the city. The locations and names of the gates of the city are described in verses 30-34, and verse 31 says that “the gates of the city will be named after the tribes of Israel.” Revelation chapter 21, which describes the New Jerusalem, mentions the same in verse 12 saying, “On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.” Ezekiel 48:35a gives the distance all around the city, while the rest of this verse declares, “And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.” (v. 35b)
For anyone reading these things it should be plain that Ezekiel chapters 36-48 are referring to that which is still to happen concerning the literal nation, land, temple, and city, for no, these promises, along with the measurements and specifications God gave, were not fulfilled in Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s time, nor when Herod rebuilt the temple. Teaching otherwise is a denial of much of God’s Word.
So, in spite of our disagreement on these things, ____, I do still appreciate Mike’s messages against sinfulness in those who claim to belong to Jesus. Regardless of the fact that all teachers I know teach differently than I do in at least one small (or big) area, I am able to sift through and glean from (some of) them so that I learn, even as I constantly compare what they say with Scripture. I do find many of Mike’s messages to be a proclamation of the Truth, and therefore beneficial, particularly in how well he explains what salvation is, does, and looks like. I am glad I found his videos last month and I plan to continue to listen to them. I also found a couple of your videos this week and I appreciate your stand, as well, for purity and holy conduct in believers.
However, being that I do not believe that you have responded to me as Christ would have, I encourage you to remember Jesus’ teaching that all His Truth hangs upon the Law of Love –to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. (Mt. 22:37-40 // Mark 12:30,31) I encourage you to teach and to model Jesus’ command, “In everything, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt. 7:12)
You want others to genuinely consider your teachings and reexamine their own. Do the same for others. As Jesus taught, “All men will know that you are My disciples IF you love one another.” (John 13:35) If Bible teachers act so elitist that they cannot fellowship with anyone who does not believe exactly as they do on every matter, there is cause to wonder if that person is like the ones spoken of in 1 Cor. 13:1-3 who can fathom all mysteries, surrender their body to the flames, etc., but who, nevertheless, gain nothing because they don’t have love.
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Rom. 15:7) “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (14:4) “Why do you look down on your brother?” (v. 10) “Stop passing judgement on one another.” (v. 13) There ARE disputable matters (v. 1), and even if the other person’s faith seems weak (or their beliefs wrong) to us, we are not to shun the weak (same verse) “brother for whom Christ died.” (v. 15) Everyone who serves Christ in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God. (v. 17,18) “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (v. 19) And, “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (15:2) I caution you to be more careful with people whom God brings across your path so that you do not neglect obedience to these commands.
Truly, “If we love each other, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12) If we do not love each other, we are not of God. (3:10) You and Mike teach that right, holy living in Christ is necessary for salvation, and this is good. But, let’s not forget that along with the commands to be holy, we are commanded, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men” (Heb. 12:14) and, “in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) “Be imitators of God, therefore… and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us…” (Eph. 5:1,2) Yes, faith, hope, knowledge, Truth, –these are highly important (1 Cor. 13:1-13)– but as that last verse tells us, “the greatest of these is love.” In fact, as both Rom. 13:9 and Gal. 5:14 inform us, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Consequently, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (Ja. 2:8) Yet if we stumble at just one point, and this would include at that of love, we become guilty of breaking all of it. (v. 10) I caution you to have love and prove it through your words and actions. (1 John 3:16-18) As Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) So, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” (1 Cor. 10:24) Indeed, it is only faith working through love that contains the power. (Gal. 5:6) Thus love in action cannot be separated from holiness if someone is really walking in the Truth of Salvation.
I pray that the Lord will further His Truth through your ministry, through Mike’s, through mine, and through everyone else’s who walks in the Light of God’s Love.
June 24, 2016
As many woke today to realize that Britain had voted to withdraw from the European Union, I begin to wonder how historically momentous this may actually be and if it was prophesied in Scripture. So I did a bit of study today from both secular and non-secular viewpoints. Though I do not claim at all to adhere to every doctrine or belief of those I read from, I did find it very interesting that some Bible teachers have been predicting for years just what we’ve seen over the last 24 hours.
Here are two videos that I found particularly informative:
A 4/9/16 video posting about Britain’s destiny as prophesied in Scripture:
A 2/5/15 video posting (over a year ago) showing that Scripture prophesies that Britain will leave the EU:
I believe that the Lord is trying to warn anyone who will pay attention that He is coming back very soon. Yes, Jesus is coming back to earth to judge, to set up His worldwide government in the literal city of Jerusalem in the literal land of Israel, and to commission His faithful followers to reign with Him.
I strongly encourage everyone to inform themselves concerning this.
May 12, 2016
A prevalent belief: That we as Christians are to take our instruction from the New Testament but not from the Old Testament. However, this view should concern us, for it is not what God’s Word tells us.
Rom. 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” This is referring to the past writings of the Old Testament Scriptures, and we should note that it says, “everything that was written… was written to teach us.” Yes, “everything”, and to teach us –those receiving the Book of Romans then and now. The verse goes on to say that the Scriptures give us encouragement and hope, while the verse prior (v. 3) gives a quote from Psalm 69:9. Why would the New Testament quote the Old if the Old Testament’s doctrine is nothing we are to now regard?
Actually, the Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament has scores of verses that it quotes from the Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament, for indeed, all of God’s Word is pertinent for us today. Jesus confirms this when, in Mt. 4:4, He quotes Dt. 8:3, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Again we should note that “every” word God utters, and has uttered, is to be that which we must live by. But to do so, we must study it.
In 2 Tim. 3:16,17 we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul was writing this to Timothy and he tells him in the proceeding verses to continue in what he has been taught, for “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (v. 15) These Scriptures, which Timothy had grown up learning, were the Old Testament Scriptures, and from this passage we, along with Timothy, can understand that ALL Scripture, being it is God’s breathed-out words, is to be used for training us in the Truth.
“But we are not under the Mosaic Law,” someone may counter. This is true, for even the Israelites, whom God covenanted with by using the Law (Ex. 19:3-6 // Lev. 26:46 // Heb. 8:7-9), and this so as to show them their inability to walk righteously without the Savior (Rom. 7:13,24,25), have been freed from that Law (1 Pe. 1:18-21) so that they, along with all who love the Truth, may “serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6) By serving under the Spirit’s control we are able to meet, as all who have a conscience know we must (2:13,14), the requirements of God’s Moral Law (8:1-4), please God (v. 8,9), and be made permanent members of His family. (v. 13,14 // John 8:31-36) We do have to obey God’s Law. Not the Mosaic Law, but instead “the Royal Law found in Scripture” (Ja. 2:8) which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (same verse // Mark 12:31) and, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” (See Mark 12:30) Jesus has told us that, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:40) Therefore, when He says, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (19:17), we must recognize that obedience to the Law of Love is, most definitely, required for eternal life. (See also Mt. 25:45,46 and 1 John 3:10.) So by carrying out God’s commands, we reveal whether or not we truly follow Love’s Law. (1 John 5:2,3)
Jesus says in Mt. 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus is explaining that He came to execute what was prophesied about Him in the Old Testament and to provide the Way for us to be cleansed, pardoned, and reconciled to God –and to remain in that state. He explains in verses 18-20, as well as in the rest of the chapter, that God’s commandments in the Old Testament are not only to be upheld, but that perfection to Love’s Law is now the rule. Yes, perfection. As Ja. 2:10 warns, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” True, “if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate [Jesus] who speaks to the Father in our defense.” (1 John 2:1) However, we must repent and walk in the Light to be forgiven and purified. (1:5-9) In other words, we must walk obedient to God’s commands (2:3-5) just as Jesus did. (v. 6)
Can we have a proper understanding of God’s character, promises, commands, and ways if we ignore the Old Testament? Certainly from the New Testament alone we can have a basic knowledge of the Gospel, but our understanding will be stunted. If the angels long to look into the Old Testament prophesies concerning Christ’s sufferings and future glories (1 Pe. 1:11,12), and if the prophets, realizing they were speaking of future things (v. 10,12), “searched intently and with the greatest of care” (v. 10) as “the Spirit of Christ in them” (v. 11) instructed them, should we neglect to study their writings and how Christ has and will fulfill them? Understanding “that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Pe. 1:20) but were instead God’s own words (v. 21), should we not heed the admonishment to pay attention to the writings of the prophets (v. 19) so that the Light shines ever brighter in us and through us? (See same verse) We should!
To not discern events prophesied in Scripture can incur our Master’s rebuke, such as those did to whom Jesus exclaimed, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) Two verses later we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) “ALL the Prophets… ALL the Scriptures…” And in verse 44: “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Being that Acts 3:21 tells us that Jesus “must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets”, should Old Testament study not remain applicable for sufficient spiritual insight? It should!
But it is not only prophecy that we learn about in the Old Testament. We learn about Love’s Law, the Way of holiness, and about God’s workings in the past –all of which train us in our walk of faith. By referring to God’s dealings in the Old Testament, the New Testament uses it to encourage us as well. One such example is in Ja. 5:10 which says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”, and then continues in verse 11 to speak of the blessing of persevering as it reminds us of Job’s perseverance and what the Lord finally brought about for him. Another example is when, in referring to Old Testament saints who exhibited faith, Heb. ch. 11 devotes itself to these so as to remind us of how God rewards faith.
The New Testament uses the Old Testament to warn us too, and lest we be tempted to sin, to fear God and His judgements. For example: The Israelites rebellion in the desert (1 Cor. 10:1-13) which was “written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (v. 11); the fallen angels, the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pe. 2:4-10); Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Jude 1:11), as well as Enoch’s prophesy about the ungodly (v. 14,15), and numerous doctrinal verses such as “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'” (Rom. 2:6 quoting Ps. 62:12 and Pr. 24:12) Certainly we should familiarize ourselves with the whole counsel of God’s Word!
As we go back to Rom. 15:4 and read the whole verse, we read, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Truly, meditating on Scripture –all of it– keeps God’s requirements at the forefront of our minds and fills us with Christ’s Spirit of Life so that we can walk in the Truth, obeying God with power, conviction, confidence, faith, wisdom, purity, love, and perseverance. (Dt. 6:6,7 // Josh. 1:8 // John 6:53-63 // Rom. 10:17 // Eph. 5:1,2 // Col. 3:2,16 // Ja. 1:21-25 // 1 Pe. 1:22-25)
So where is Love’s Law taught? Is it taught only in the New Testament? No. It is also taught in the Old Testament. All of Scripture gives us examples that warn us, teach us, comfort us, strengthen us, convict us, reveal Doctrine and the character of God to us, point us to Jesus who is Israel’s promised Messiah and Returning King, and explain to us how to best worship God, please Him, and serve and love both Him and others. All of it is our spiritual food. All of it brings us knowledge of God and His ways. All of it is what we live by so as to be filled with God’s divine power and nature. (2 Pe. 1:3,4) All of Scripture –both Old and New Testaments– are to be read, studied, followed, obeyed, honored, and trusted. ALL Scripture is God’s own breathed-out, divine words; and along with His Name, He has exalted His Word above all other things. (Ps. 138:2) So then should we.
February 2, 2016
Who of us do not find slavery repugnant? Who of us do not loathe the sentiments of those who used the Bible to support a system that treated others contrary to how they themselves wished to be treated? Who of us would consider slavery to be condoned by Christ’s teachings or by God’s Word as a whole? Is the LORD a God of partiality –a God who approves or disapproves of human beings according to some innate feature of their physical makeup? Or is He the God who created every person in His image and offers to every one of them the gift of His Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:14) that they may be accepted by Him as “His priests”? (See 1 Pe. 2:9 and Rev. 1:5,6 & 5:9,10)
Yesterday Google highlighted the life and contributions of Frederick Douglass, a man who, though formerly a slave, escaped to freedom and used his life to greatly further the cause of equal rights for all. I encourage everyone to read about him.
Thankfully, slavery has been abolished in many parts of the world and is, at least, viewed by most societies as evil. Is the suppression of others –suppression based on one’s physical characteristics– not evil? It is, and certainly all genuine Christ-followers know it.
I ask, then, what is going on with the suppression of women throughout the world and as particularly promoted by religion? No, it is not merely a suppression fostered by the Muslim religion, but by evangelical Christianity as well. Women are not allowed to speak in church or to teach men the Truth of God’s Word? Women are to submit to church elders and obey their husbands in everything? Is this really the doctrine of the Word of God?
Before we answer, let’s consider this verse: “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older.” (1 Pe. 5:5)
Now how many young pastors are obeying that command? How many young men –church leaders and lay men alike– are submitting to the directives of older men within their churches? If we are honest, the answer is “few”. And for those who do, should they submit without question, even if they believe God is instructing them otherwise? What about 1 Tim. 4:12 where Paul says to Timothy who is a church overseer, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers…”? And when Paul tells him to “command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1:3), can Timothy’s commands then be directed only to men younger than him?
Let’s consider this verse: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21) Doesn’t this sound like a command? Why then is it so often not followed amongst preachers? Why are most pastors not submitting to any other pastor? Why are elders not in submission to all other Christian elders? Is every believer to submit to every other believer? Or might these verses be models for us that work if other Christ-followers are using it as a model as well? Shouldn’t submitting “as is fitting in the Lord” (Col. 3:18) be applicable in every relationship?
Let’s consider this verse: “…in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Phil. 2:3) Are we really to consider every person better than ourselves, or is this a command to heed when we are tempted to think more highly of ourselves than another? And what does the next verse command? It says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” All others? Or at least all others who we come in contact with? Are we really responsible to attend to everyone’s concerns? Or is this, too, a command to use as a guide, a model, a confirmation for when the Holy Spirit lays a person, or group of people, on our hearts that we should give to or sacrifice ourselves for? 1 Cor. 10:24 says, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Really? Nobody should seek his own good? Or is this verse an instruction to be used by the Spirit in guiding us through particular situations where others need our attention and help?
Let’s consider the issue of refuting that which we know to be false doctrine. In 2 Tim. 2:23-26 we see that the Lord’s servant is commanded to not quarrel with those opposed to him, but is to instruct them gently. Yet in Titus we read that bad doctrine is to be refuted (1:9), the adherents rebuked sharply (v. 13), those who continue to reject the Truth, shunned (3:9-11), and rebukes are to be given “with all authority.” (2:15) This would be beneficial if all who claim Christ would make sure they were in line with 1 Pe. 4:11: “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” But how many Christians, even preachers, have a flippant attitude about this verse, particularly when they comment at blogs, rebuke someone who tries to correct them, or try to be entertaining in the pulpit?
1 Tim. 5:4 tells us that children and grandchildren are to put their religion into practice by caring for their families, including their parents and grandparents. How many Westerners are obeying this? Yet verse 8 states that those who do not provide for their relatives are actually denying the faith. Jesus teaches the same concept in Mark 7:6-13.
In Mt. 5:23,24 we see our Lord teaching that when someone has a grudge against us, we are not to come before God with our gifts (of worship, service, money, praise, prayer, etc.) until we are reconciled to that offended person. But who obeys this command with every person that gets angry at us or rejects us? Don’t we instead use it as a guide alongside Rom. 12:18 that says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”–?
Now that we’ve been reminded that the Scriptures can be correctly applied only under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let’s go back to some more of the “submit” verses. There are many, but let’s look at just a few more –like Eph. 5:24: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” And Col. 3:22: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything.” And Rom. 13:1,2: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities… [for, in fact,] he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…” And 1 Pe. 2:13: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men, whether to the king… or to governors…” Are these commands not for everyone, or are they directed only to certain races or to one gender? And what should a man do if a person in authority above him tells him to do something that goes against his conscience or God’s Word? Certainly we know we should answer that with verses such as Acts 4:18-20 and 5:27-29 which teach us that obeying God takes precedence over obeying any person, law, or institution.
So, was (and is) the motto of Frederick Douglass’ abolitionist newspaper correct? The motto was, “Right is of no Sex [Gender], Truth is of no Color, God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” Does this line up with the whole counsel of God’s Word? It does. And does this apply across the board, including in families and in churches? Well, have all those who have put their trust in Christ and been baptized into Him also been clothed with Him? Gal. 3:26,27 tell us “yes”. This is why verse 28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So then, all who are in Christ are clothed with Christ, and all who are clothed with Christ are one body with no inferior parts and no parts that can claim supremacy. (1 Cor. ch. 12) “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body” (v. 13) and the Spirit gives spiritual gifts to each person as He, and He alone, chooses. (v. 4-11) Therefore, if anyone tries to suppress the work of the Spirit in anyone else’s life, the oppressor should understand that he is not gathering with Christ but instead scattering, and that he is not with Christ, but rather against Christ. (Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:23)
Made in God’s image, every human is intrinsically equal, and yes, everyone in Christ is also –regardless of race, age, gender, or any other physical characteristic. No one within Christ’s church, His body, has the right to exercise authority over anyone else. (Mark 10:42-45) Those who lead are to be everyone’s slave. (v. 44) And everyone is to submit to everyone. –As is fitting in the Lord. For the Lord Jesus Christ is our one and only Mediator, Teacher, and Master of God’s commands. (Mt. 23:8-10 // 1 Tim. 2:5)
Slavery has been abolished in civilized societies, even though the Bible was vigorously used by many to support it. Why then do we see the continuation of this horrible sin of suppressing, and oppressing, women? Truly the proponents do not have the mind of Christ on the issue.