Archive for September, 2012

First the Spiritual, Then the Physical

(God Has A Plan For Israel part 3)
The way Jesus answered questions that were asked of him was very revealing. At times, questions were used by those who opposed him to try and trap Jesus into saying something that they could use against him. When that happened, Jesus would give the answer they deserved but would still teach something in the process.

What I am looking at right now, though, is a sincere question that was put forth that Jesus obviously answered as best he could in Acts 1:6-7.

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:6-8 NKJV)

There are some things which jump out at me from this encounter. The first of which is that the disciples had earlier had their minds opened to understand the Scriptures and what had been written about him in the Law and Prophets at the end of Luke’s prior account.

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, (Luke 24:44, 45 KJV)

Having received this supernaturally accelerated education, the question gets asked about a physical restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. This was not, as some commentators would have us believe, the last vestiges of a misunderstanding about the true nature of the Kingdom. If that had been the case, then Jesus would have answered something like “that will not happen” or “the Kingdom will only be in your hearts” instead of telling them that only the Father knew the timing of the events. His answer implies that the events will actually occur. If the Kingdom were ONLY spiritual, then his answer is misleading, and we know that cannot be the case. It would also mean that they had not really had their minds enlightened to understand the Scriptures after all. This was not asked by just one person, either. The verse says “they” asked.

What Jesus said was that the Kingdom would be spiritual before it would be physical. In short, Jesus got them to focus on the part of the plan that was up to them. They would receive power from on high and go into all the known world and preach the Gospel. Don’t worry about the part of the plan that will come later. They needed to get inboard with the part they were to play and leave the other part to God.

This also means that the endless debates about whether or not we are in the Kingdom now as opposed to later are pointless. The answer is that yes, we are the Kingdom of God now in a spiritual sense, but at a future time the Kingdom will also manifest literally in a physical sense. The two views are not contradictory, but are consecutive. We have been debating as if the two manifestations of the Kingdom are mutually exclusive when they are not.

As I said before, Acts 1:6-7 would have been the perfect time to set the record straight by telling the disciples an answer like “He is not, it will only be I your hearts” but Jesus did not do that. Rather than deny the future restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, he simply told them they would know the time or season it would happen.

There are some, possibly many, who will still say that there is no future restoration of the Kingdom to Israel, and that the Kingdom is strictly spiritual. But they will need to answer the question of verse 6-7 for themselves. And please do not post comments that are cut and paste from commentaries. Think for yourselves and wrestle with this as I have. Ask how it is that if the “only spiritual I our hearts” doctrine is correct, then how do we explain the Kingdom destroying all earthly empires in the vision of Daniel 2? How is it that in Isaiah 9 God said, “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7 NKJV)
Or how will Jesus Christ rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15)?

No, only the “first the spiritual, then the physical” interpretation works for the passages about the Kingdom and reconciles them in a way that keeps us from having to consign whole passages to being taken as allegory when they are in fact all describing actual events. In future posts I will attempt to expound upon the “first, then” pattern in the Bible, but space demands that it be separate. As I said, feel free to comment, but please first consider the plausibility of what I have written instead of jumping to proof texting. May our discussions be fruitful!

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Following Antichrist?

Would anyone knowingly follow an Antichrist? Would you? Of course not, but many are unknowingly follow the spirit of Antichrist and believe they are quite right and tolerant to do so. If that is the case, and I believe it is, then we need to know what that spirit is so we can avoid it at all costs!

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour… Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:18, 22 NASB)

The Apostle John introduces the first mark of this antichrist spirit (or philosophy) by its first identifying characteristic. It denies that Jesus is the Messiah (or Christ). Notice that he doesn’t use the phrase “a Christ” but rather “the Christ”. While there are certainly many who deny that Jesus was who He claimed to be, there is also the dangerous teaching that Jesus was “a” Christ, just one among many. Jesus is portrayed as a way to God, but not as the only way. That is one reason the teaching is anti-Christ, or anti-Messiah. It denies His unique role in salvation. Jesus, however, said otherwise.
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 NASB)

John reiterates this point when he mentions the spirit of Antichrist again in chapter 4 of 1 John.

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:2, 3 NASB)

What does he mean by denying that Jesus came in the flesh? Well I think the key is in the word “came”, because they will acknowledge that Jesus was an actual person, but not that he came from God as the Word made flesh (John 1:14). This is the philosophy that says Jesus was just a good man or a great teacher that was later deified by his followers. It is supremely strange to think that all of those who were Jesus’ disciples died for what they had just made up! It also makes Jesus out to be either a liar or a lunatic (see C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”). The world has no problem with liking Jesus, but worshipping Him as God and only Savior is considered intolerant.

We must be careful not to succumb to this politically correct philosophy. It is the path of least resistance, but it is the road to destruction and will cost us dearly if we choose to follow it. John also addressed the problem in 2 John verse 7.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. (2 John 1:7, 8 NASB)

John goes on to give this dire warning:

Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9 NASB)

We must resist this spirit/philosophy of Antichrist with all we have within us. We must teach our children and new Christians not to fall for the trap of the devil that would entice them to please men rather than God. John tells us what the truth is that we must embrace about Christ at the beginning of his gospel and does so better than I ever could.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14 ESV)

Amen.

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Lest You Become Weary

Whenever there is film of a marathon race, they like to show the participants as they get near to the end of the race. I have yet to see anyone stopping to do some shopping, or to play a quick game of basketball during the race. That doesnt happen because the runners are fully focused and what they need to do. I think that maintaining our focus is one of the reasons for our communion at the Lord’s Table every week as well. Hebrews 12 talks about things we can do when we take the bread and the fruit of the vine that will help of run with endurance.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV)

First, we take encouragement from those who have run the race before us. We also build one another up as we partake of the emblems each week together. This is not something we do alone. It is, as Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 10, a communion in the body and blood of Christ.

Second, we should reflect on our lives and determine that because of our love for Christ and our gratitude for the price he paid, we will lay aside every sin that so easily ensnares us. As we remember the brutality of the suffering that He endured, we are reminded of the awfulness of our sin and resolve to turn from it, lest we be ensnared in it again.

Third, we must focus on Jesus, who is our supreme example of endurance. Think about what He went through. Think about his focus stayed on the joy at the end, when he would be able to redeem his bride and spend eternity with us in heaven. And as we consider the hostility He endured for us, it will help us to endure the trials we go through and not become discouraged and weary. He died for me; I will live for him.

Take time today to focus on Jesus and what he has done and resolve anew to never quit, but rather to run with endurance and finish well.

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Whosoever Meaneth All Y’all

Who did Jesus die for?
Seems like a fairly simple question, and many are surprised to find out that there is heated theological debate surrounding it. One the one side stand those who subscribe to Calvinist theology and claim that Jesus only died for the sins of the elect. The elect are those whom God has predestined for salvation out of the world, as opposed to the reprobate, whom He has chosen for destruction. This is known as the doctrine of “Limited Atonement.”
On the other side stand those who say that Christ died for all, but that the price that was paid is only efficacious for those who obey the Gospel offered by grace to those with faith.

How this question is answered is highly consequential, for it will affect your entire view of the nature of God. Does God only love and save a few, or is there a universal invitation offered in love but which only a few will accept and obey? Let’s see what the Bible says on the matter.

Who has Jesus invited to come to Him?

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11 NKJV)
That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. (John 1:9 NKJV)
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30 NKJV)
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said, signifying by what death He would die. (John 12:32, 33 NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)

What can be seen from these verses is that the call to salvation has gone out to all men, not just to an elect few, and that the invitation is for whoever will believe and obey it. So then, it is reasonable to conclude that the blood that was shed was sufficient for the forgiveness of every sin ever committed.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:2 NKJV)

Do you see the significance of that? The price has already been paid. All that is left is for us to accept that sacrifice through faith when we obey the Gospel. If someone goes to eternal punishment, how much more tragic it is that they will do so in spite of someone having paid their sin penalty for them!

The last words Jesus spoke before ascending to the Father, we’re a command to go into ALL the world and make disciples of all the nations. How? By baptizing them, and teaching them to do all things He had commanded them. (Matthew 28:18-20). It is certainly fitting, then, that the New Testament should end with a call to salvation as well. And it is a call to whosoever will (aka all y’all).

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And let him who hears say, Come! And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely…
He who testifies to these things says, Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:17, 20 NKJV)

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Being Terminal

I am terminal, and so are you. No, I don’t have some dreaded disease. Let me explain what I mean.

A few years ago, country singer Tim McGraw wrote a hit song that was inspired by his experience with his father who died from brain cancer. It was called “Live Like You Were Dying” and the message was one about how differently people live if they know the have a terminal disease. It certainly does provoke some deep thinking. What would we do differently? How would we treat others? What things would not be left unsaid?
Well I’ve got news for you. According to the Bible I’m terminal and so are you!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 ESV)

Well there you have it. Every one of us has an appointment with death that is certain to happen. If that’s not terminal, then what is? How long do you have? That is something none of us knows. It may be tomorrow, and it may be 90 years from now. But with this in mind, how should we live?

First off, make sure of your relationship with God. Look in the bible and find out what you must do to be saved. Don’t take someone else’s word for it, either. A dying man or woman needs to get the facts for themselves by doing their own research. You cannot afford to be wrong!

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV)

Regarding salvation, you should also not delay telling someone about Jesus so that they can have faith in Him, too! Do not put it off until tomorrow. It could be your last chance to tell them, or their last chance to hear it. You are both terminal, so you can’t be sure. People’s eternal destiny hangs in the balance, so don’t withhold the Gospel because you don’t think they will receive it. Jesus could read men’s heart, not you. Plant the seed or water it, and let God provide the harvest!

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7 NKJV)

Another thing to do is to walk in love and forgiveness. I have seen many people who made it their first order of business upon learning they were terminally ill, to make sure they had forgiven everyone, and asked for forgiveness where needed. Impending death has a way of clarifying what is important in life. I have also seen some weep with regret over things left unsaid. As our first verse said, we are all going to die, so make sure your relationships with others are right, with no thanks, or apologies left unsaid.

Lastly (although I am sure there could be more) do great things for God. Consider this for a moment. What would you do in service and love for God if you knew you would not fail? Would you learn a language and reach out to those from other cultures here or abroad with the Good News of Jesus? How far out of your comfort zone would you be willing to go to be a living epistle and show someone the love of God? Think about it! Jesus said He would be with us always, so you have nothing to fear and everything to gain.

When this life is over, wouldn’t it be wonderful to say along with the Apostle Paul:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV)

Time is running out. People are dying every day that don’t know Jesus. Do something! Live the adventure in Christ, and live like you were dying!

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Circumcision Via Baptism

Circumcision By Baptism

Under the Old Testament systems in the Patriarchal and Mosaic covenants, there was a sign instituted between God and Abraham that would show who truly belonged to God. This sign was called circumcision and was instituted by God, because no man would ever have thought of this.

and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. (Genesis 17:11 NKJV)

But circumcision is no longer a requirement today. It has been replaced by baptism (amen) as stated by the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Colossians chapter 2.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11, 12 NKJV)

In former times, circumcision was a sign between man and God, but under the New Covenant, it is that and so much more! For Abraham, the circumcision of the flesh occurred after faith, so Romans 4:9-12 says he was justified by faith before the circumcision happened. But in baptism, the saving faith by which one is justified before God happens simultaneously with immersion.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28, 29 NKJV)

So now, instead of a sign on our flesh, God uses baptism to mark or hearts permanently as His. This is a mark that only God can see. Someone can say they have the mark, but only God knows if they are true or not. At is why their praise is from God, and why we need to be satisfied with little or no praise and recognition from men. We must learn that only God’s approval matters in the end.

When people witness our baptism, they are not just watching as a soul is saved. They are seeing a circumcision take place. By salvation being a public thing, we are telling all who see it that we desire to be in covenant relationship with Jesus. Like it said in Colossians 2, as we participate in the death, burial and resurrection at baptism, we enter into the covenant that His blood was shed to inaugurate for us. And because of the faith we have in the “operation of God” that is transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son, our faith and obedience combine to spiritually mark us and set us apart for God.

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God Has A Plan For Israel continued

As we move later into Romans chapter 11, we find the theme for this passage.

For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins. Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:27-29 NKJV)

The rejection of Israel is temporary, not because of effort or merit. The eventual re-grafting of Israel is based completely on the nature of God. While humans may change their minds or dissolve a contract, God is perfect and His word is unalterable. Once God makes an unconditional promise, He will never renege on it. To do so would mean His promise was less than perfect. And God made these covenant promises with full knowledge of what would happen in the future. God has no “Plan B” and He will never need one.

In the previous verses, Paul reiterates the temporary nature of Israel’s blindness.

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (Romans 11:25, 26 NKJV)

Who is the group being referred to as “all Israel” here? It is made up of the true children of Abraham. Those who have faith, whether born as Gentiles or Jews. And there will come a day when the last of the Gentiles who God foreknows will obey the Gospel is saved, and the blindness is taken away, and masses of Jews turn to the Messiah and are grafted back into the olive tree.

For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. (Romans 11:30-32 NKJV)

Just as we, as Gentiles, we’re once lost and walking in disobedience, and received mercy for salvation, God will cause Israel to turn from their disobedience because of His mercy. Thus, God will have saved both groups for one reason alone. Because He decided to do it!
Paul makes it clear that we are not qualified to determine the reasons God does things. It’s not about us, or what we think should happen. God’s ways are beyond our ability to fully fathom.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NKJV)

It’s not about us. It’s about the glory of God. Period! And so both groups, Jew and Gentile alike, will fulfill the plan of God together. We can’t do it without them, and they can’t complete it without us. I will finish this one with what the Hebrew writer said:

And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us. (Hebrews 11:39, 40 NET)

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God Has A Plan For Israel

I hope you’ve got some time on your hands, because we are going to analyze every verse about Israel in the Bible. Okay, just kidding. What I really want to do is to take a closer look at what Paul has to say about the nation of Israel in Romans 11. See? It doesn’t seem so bad by comparison, does it!
From doing so, I plan to show two things.
1. Israel’s rejection is not total; and,
2. Israel’s rejection is not permanent.

God’s Rejection Of Israel Is Not Total

I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, Lord , they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life? But what does the divine response say to him? I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day. And David says: Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes
be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always. (Romans 11:1-10 NKJV)

Clearly, at the present time, the church which is made up mostly of Gentiles, is what God is using. But that does not mean that He will not use the Jewish people in the future as He promised. If that is not the. As, then how does that reflect on the faithfulness of God, who made certain unconditional and everlasting promises to Israel? God is not capable of being anything but faithful to His Word.

So let’s take a closer look at this passage verse by verse.
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1 NKJV)
Has God thrown away His people? Did He finally say that He could not take it any longer and cast them out? To some it would appear to be so, since God is using those of us who have been adopted into the Family of God . It could seem like this was the case.

It is kind of like Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Aaron is under contract to play quarterback for the team. But what would happen if the season started and he started getting full of himself and disregarded the instructions of his coach. He would be pulled from the game and benched. But would he still be a part of the team? Even though he might feel that the team has broken promises to him by keeping him out of the game. But that would not be true. He is still on the team, but he is not on the field. Eventually, he will grow tired, or even jealous, of seeing a second string quarterback in his place on the field, change his attitude, and be put back onto the field when he starts obeying the coach’s instructions.

That is where Israel is right now. They were selected and prepared to fulfill a position before God, but chose to be rebellious. After rejecting their Messiah, they We’re benched and spiritual Israel, the church, has taken their place. But they have not been fully rejected by God. Because of that, Paul can answer his own question in verse 1 with a resounding “no!”

But do we have any other evidence that this is true? Yes, Paul uses himself as evidence. And since God had saved him, and he was an Israelite, then the rejection isn’t a complete one of all Hebrews. The fact that there are some believers of Jewish descent shows that God has not cast off all Jews from henceforth.

God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, Lord , they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life? But what does the divine response say to him? I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal. (Romans 11:2-4 NKJV)

“God did not reject his people whom he foreknew.” God knew ahead of time how Israel would reject The Messiah. This was not a shock to Him. And yet he still chose them and gave them a covenant in spite of that. There were many times Israel’s rebellion seemed so total that they were beyond repair. For instance, during the time of the prophet Elijah, he complained, “Lord they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to kill me.” It probably seemed to Elijah that God’s plan for Israel had failed, that there were no faithful people left to work through. In verse 4 we find God’s answer to Elijah, “I’ve reserved for myself 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In other words, God had a remnant, a small number of faithful Israelites, to work through and fulfill his promises even in the worst of times. According to verse 5 the same is true today.

Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. (Romans 11:5, 6 NKJV)

There are not huge throngs of Jewish Christians, but there are a few. Because that is true, it cannot be said that God has negated his promises or completely rejected his people. Why are these remnant Jews saved today? Is it because they were more deserving, or worked harder at it than other Jews? Of course not! Paul answers that in verse 6 by saying they were chosen by grace. What is different is that they chose to obey the Gospel of grace instead of trying to earn God’s approval by law keeping.

But why are there so many who reject the grace of God in Christ Jesus? Paul answers that question in the next verses.

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day. And David says: Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. (Romans 11:7-9 NKJV)

Paul’s point is that, as a general rule, the have their hearts “hardened” to the Gospel message. And hard ground resists seeds planted on it. This is the consequence of their resistance to the Messiah. It is judgment for rejecting the Gospel when they had the chance to understand and obey it.

There is more contained in these verses, but the point Paul seems to be trying to make is that God’s rejection of Israel was not total. There is a small group of Jewish Christians who are being saved, but this will not always be the case. For the present, there is a minority who believe and a majority who reject Christ. But that leads to the next point.

God’s rejection of Israel is not permanent!.

I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11-15 NKJV)

Is this fall permanent? In other words, is God finished with Israel forever? According to Paul, that is not the case. At some point, they will get back into the starting line up and be back in the game with us. This is important because so many have been taught “Replacement Theology” where the promises to Israel were forfeited and they have been replaced by the Church. Unfortunately, this has also led to some anti-Semitism, which is totally contrary to what Paul is teaching here about the attitude gentile Christians should have toward the Jewish people.

Paul even makes a point of showing how this has been a benefit to us, because salvation has come to the Gentiles because of it. Only God can take something so bad and turn it around for good! And if Israel’s loss is our gain, how mu h fuller and richer will it be when they are with us!
And eventually, many will be converted because of our gentile witness, and will be resurrected as a result. Rather than being against the Jewish people, we should be actively praying and sharing the Gospel with those who may listen. Then they too will receive new and eternal life in Christ.

And in the end, physical Israel will rejoin the tree from which they were broken, and join with those of us who have been grafted in. And our love for them, through whom Jesus came into the world, will grow more and more as true Israel, Gentiles and Jews alike, will be saved by their obedience to the Gospel message. When will this happen? I don’t know, but let it not be delayed by our lack of preaching the Good News to them at every opportunity!

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Do Not Invite Jesus Into Your Life

Does that statement shock you? Have you been told repeatedly that sinners need to just accept Jesus into their heart and/or invite Jesus into their lives for salvation? Well, in fact, that is not only wrong, it is the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen. Before you delete this or send angry comments, let me explain.

So what is wrong with inviting Jesus into your life? To start with, it puts the focus on you instead of where it belongs, which is on Jesus. The fact is that Jesus is inviting us into HIS life! The call to salvation is a call to die to our lives, in order to be resurrected to life in Christ. As Paul put it in Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me. (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)

Jesus himself said that if anyone does not pick up their cross daily, they cannot be His disciple (Luke 9:23). There is only one reason for someone to take up a cross — dying! So what we need to do is to give up our lives and enter into His life. It is only after we have given up our lives in exchange for His that He can make all things new. Just as Jesus “emptied himself” (Philippians 2:7) in order to become like us, we must also empty ourselves to be enabled to become more and more like Him.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

But what about Revelation 3:20? Doesn’t it say that Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts, and all we need to do is to let Him in? In fact, that verse is not talking about salvation at all. It is a tragic picture of Jesus trying to gain entrance into a congregation of Christians that have decided they have it all figured out and no longer need Him. Our hearts actually appeal to God for a good conscience when we obey the Gospel in baptism! (1 Peter 3:21)

Well then, how do we die and enter into the life of Christ? Paul spelled it all out in Romans 6:3-11.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11 NKJV)

So rather than do something as foreign to Scripture as repeat a sinners prayer, call on the name of the Lord by being baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. That’s the key; baptism is the sinners prayer! Don’t invite Jesus into your life. Accept His invitation for you to die to yourself and enter into His life!

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All The Revelation We Need

Many times these days I hear someone talk about getting a new revelation from God. Or groups will claim that God is yet revealing many new things (usually only to their leader). Is this possible? Is God still sending new revelation about Himself to mankind? The writer of the letter to the Hebrews would disagree.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1, 2 NKJV)

At the start of this rich letter, the author addresses the subject of revelation from God by showing that Jesus is a superior revelation than what had been received in the past. In the Old Testament, revelation was progressive and was received bit by bit until the truth was complete. As the Lord told Isaiah, “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:10 ESV)

Notice, too, that the writer says that this was accomplished in the past tense. What is necessarily implied here is that this method of revelation, prophets, was no longer being used. So much for having a living prophet or an organization that is the conduit of divine revelation today. No, because we now have the complete revelation that is to be provided. It is a superior revelation that makes the other method obsolete. In fact it is not a method, but is now a person. Verse 1 states that God has now spoken to us by means of a Son — Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the full revelation of The Father, and as such, we need no other. In verse 3, the writer says of this Son that he is the exact representation of His (God’s) nature. Paul says the same thing in Colossians chapter 1:15 when he describes Jesus as “the image of the invisible God.” Do you want to know what God is like? What His nature is? Then go to Jesus, for the fullness of the Godhead dwells within Him in bodily form and you need look no further.

For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9, 10 NKJV)

Do you want to obtain wisdom and knowledge from God? You will only find it in Jesus, ” in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 NASB) So if you want to know what God has revealed for us to know, you will only find it in Jesus! A search for the Word of God begins and ends at the feet of the One who was and is Word made flesh (John 1:1-14)

In fact, there is spiritually mortal danger in going beyond the revelation and teaching found in Jesus.

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9 ESV)

Jesus is not only all of the revelation we need, He is all the revelation there is! He is the complete revelation of God, and we have no need to look elsewhere!

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