Author Archives: Joshua Stewart

Who is He? – Extended

An old favorite hymn of mine is called “Who Is He?” by B. R. Hanby. I’ve enjoyed expanding the lyrics:

Who is He in yonder stall,
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Who is He who from the womb,
By His Father’s will consumed?
Who is He in Galilee,
In dusty towns, around the sea,
Working in a craftsman’s trade,
Every act pure grace displayed!

Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?
Who is He – the sick and lame –
To His feet for mercy came?
From that voice the demons fled,
To those arms were children led!

Who is He who from their work,
Calls fishermen, and then a clerk?
Who is He at Sychar’s well,
Can a woman’s secret tell?
Offers living water, free,
All may come and happy be!

Who is He, in perfect grace,
To save our race, took such a place?
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Who is He upon the sea,
Sails to set a captive free?
Who is He on pillow laid,
As the ship by billows swayed,
Calms the storm, and holds the breeze,
Brings His followers to their knees.

Who is He who breaks the loaves,
With compassion, feeds the droves?
Departs into a hill alone,
While aboard the boat, His own…
Who is He upon the waves,
Reaches out and Peter saves?

Who is He that stands and weeps
At the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
Who is He, that voice of power,
Breaks the hold of death’s dark glower,
Truly God and man in one,
In a servant’s form, the Son!

Who is He, man seeks to kill,
Who always did His Father’s will?
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Lo! at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He in Pilate’s hall,
Who for sport, the soldiers maul?
Yet in silence still He stands,
Waiting on Divine commands.

Who is He – their bended knees –
Offered then, in mockery:
Who is He, with crown of thorn,
Robe of red and reed of scorn,
Amid the shame – that rabble sea,
Never saw such dignity!

Who is He upon the tree,
Suffering such deep agony?
Who by darkness overspread,
Takes God’s wrath upon His head?
Who is He in Calvary’s throes,
Asks for blessings on His foes?

Who is He, upon the cross,
Sheds His blood, to save the lost?
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Who is He who from the dead,
Crushed the fiery serpent’s head?
Who is He that from the grave
Comes to heal, and bless, and save?
Who can claim that victory? –
He who died upon the tree.

Lo! ascending, who is He
Captive leads captivity?
Who is He, who takes His seat,
In highest honor, Father greets?
Who is He on yonder throne,
Rules the world of light alone?

Who is He, ’twill come again,
Will Himself for us descend?
He will raise the sleeping saints,
Deliver us, from all sin’s taints!
Then for all eternity,
With that One we’ll ever be!

Who is He, who takes His bride,
Marries her, for whom He died?
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Who is He who takes the book,
While all in heaven enraptured look?
Who is He who plants His feet,
On hill and valley, land, and sea,
He is worthy of that place,
Yet He shares it – such His grace!

Who is He, who comes with clouds,
In judgment on the earth so proud?
His humble mule, exchanged indeed,
For a splendid conqueror’s steed?
Who is He, claims victory,
‘Tis the Man of Calvary!

Who is He, with Bride in hand,
Settles down to rule the land?
From that throne, the waters flow,
Heal the earth, and make it grow,
Living waters now abound,
Where before was thirsty ground!

His suffering then with glory meet,
Th’eternal plan is then complete.
Delivered up, the Kingdom too,
God shall then make all things new,
Evil then forever cease,
An eternity of peace.

With that One we’ll ever be,
With Him we’ll spend eternity:
     ‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
     ‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory!
     At His feet we humbly fall—
     Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all!

Q&A: Importance of the Incarnation

QWhy was it so important for the Son of God to come in the incarnation of man on the earth?

◉   ◉   ◉

AThe incarnation of Christ is vital to many aspects of the Christian faith. Without the incarnation, there is no Christ, no cross, and no Christianity.

In John 1 we read of the incarnation, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth… For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:14, 17-18). The incarnation is vitally important for many reasons, but first and foremost because incarnation was the means of the eternal God coming down to meet man, and dwell among us. God has chosen the incarnation as the means of giving the highest revelation of Himself; the only-begotten Son, become flesh, declaring the Father. There was no other way for God to do this, other than to take manhood into union with Himself. The incarnation is the vehicle, if we can use the word, that brought grace and truth to man. This is what Jesus brought: grace, or the activity of Divine love in the midst of evil, and truth, the revelation of all things as they really are. It required One who was fully God and fully man. If the Son had never been made flesh, or if He were merely a man, grace and truth could not have come to us.

It is important to see that the sacrifice of Calvary could not be accomplished apart from the incarnation. When Adam sinned he forfeited his life, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). The wages of sin is death; a life must be forfeited (Rom. 6:23). The claims of a righteous and holy God must be met, and a life must be given to set man on another footing before Him. Hence, God required the sacrifice of blood; “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). But the life of an animal could not redeem a man’s, other than in a ceremonial sense, as Hebrews 9 and 10 show (Heb. 9:12; 10:4). It must be a human life given in exchange for another human life. But “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), and so none could give himself a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28), because that life is forfeited, and therefore not free to offer. Further, the one whose life was given must be a Divine person. First, even if a man was sinless, the work of atonement required a personal excellency that went beyond a mere man; the sword of judgment must be “against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 13:7). He must be both God and man to be the “daysman” of Job 9:33, and the “one mediator” of 1 Timothy 2:5. Second, He must offer Himself “by the Eternal Spirit” to God (Heb. 9:14), which only a Divine Person could do. Third, no mere man can truly offer His life, but instead loses his life, or has it taken from him (Ecc. 8:8). Only a man who was also a Divine Person could offer Himself in this supreme sense (Eph. 5:2; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 3:16). In incarnation, the Son became a man in order to be the sacrifice that God’s righteousness required; thus a body was prepared for Him (Heb. 10:5). On the cross He offered up His holy life in death, and shed His precious blood before the eye of God, in order to bring us into a new standing before God! There was no other way, apart from incarnation.1

In Hebrews 2 the manhood of Christ is taken up, and there are a number of reasons given for Christ becoming man.2

  1. To make atonement for sins (Hebrews 2:17). The sins of mankind, and the whole issue of sin, is a terrible outrage against the glory of God. Christ became a man first and foremost to glorify God with respect to the issue of sin (John 13:31-32). This work of propitiation was done on the cross, but incarnation was necessary in order for Him to accomplish it. The same can be said of the substitutionary aspect of the cross; “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). In order to accomplish substitutionary atonement, the Son had to come in incarnation, with a human spirit, soul, and body, in which He bore our sins on the cross.
  2. To fulfill the counsels of God with respect to man (Hebrews 2:7-8). The purpose for which God created man could not be completed by the first man, who failed in his place. But the Son became man to accomplish that purpose, and it will be fulfilled to God’s ultimate satisfaction and glory. It could not happen without the incarnation!
  3. To annul the devil by death (Hebrews 2:14). The defeat of Satan required that a righteous man would enter into death and then rise again! We know from Luke 20:36 that angels cannot die, so the Son had to go a little lower than the angels “for the suffering of death”; i.e. He had to become a man to offer Himself in death.
  4. To be able to sympathize with us (Hebrews 2:10, 18). Another great reason for the incarnation is that manhood fitted the Son of God to be our merciful and faithful High Priest. In His pathway here on earth, Christ passed through every experience necessary to make Him qualified to sympathize with us perfectly as our great High Priest. God, according to His own character, has chosen to give us, the “many sons”, a perfect Leader on our way to glory! We could not have this sympathetic Leader without the incarnation.

In addition to these reasons, there are more given in John 6. The Son came down as the bread of heaven:

  • To make the gift of eternal life possible. Jesus said “the bread of God is he who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33), and then “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), and then “He that believes on me has life eternal” (John 6:47). To “eat the living bread” come down from heaven is to receive and know Christ as the Son of God, come as a humble man, to bring eternal life to as many as believe on Him (John 6:51). The flesh of the Son of God was given for us at the cross, and so incarnation alone was not enough to save us; the atoning death was also needed. However, we can see that incarnation was vital to make the gift of eternal life possible!
  • To be the daily food that sustains us in our pathway. Christ has set Himself before the believer as an object, that we might find our sustenance in Him; “he also who eats me shall live also on account of me; this is the bread which has come down out of heaven” (John 6:57-58). He is the antitype of the manna; Christ in incarnation as a humble man on earth living for His Father’s will; that is what we feed on! This is the “ongoing” sense of eating, rather than “once-for-all”. We eat the Bread of Heaven once for eternal life initially, and then we continue to feed on Him to sustain that life.

Another reason for the incarnation is to fulfill the Messianic prophecies. From the moment sin entered the world, God promised that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). All of God’s purposes, and all of man’s blessing, looked forward to the incarnation of the Son; “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). The prophecies of the Messiah in connection with His sufferings and His future kingdom glories all depend on the incarnation.

When we consider the incarnation of our blessed Lord Jesus, we can hardly think of one purpose of God, or one blessing of man – whether in salvation or in our preservation in the pathway – that is not vitally linked to that stupendous reality! The revelation of God, the atoning work, the counsels of God, Messianic prophecies, the sympathies of Christ, the gift of eternal life, and many other blessed truths all connect with the incarnation of Christ. How fitting then that the validation of sound doctrine would be the truth of the Person of Christ. He is the touchstone; “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 John 4:2-3).

At the same time, incarnation alone is not sufficient to secure our salvation or accomplish the purposes of God. The death of Christ, His resurrection, and glorification at God’s right hand are equally necessary. It is a deadly evil to deny the incarnation, but is also a tragic loss to emphasize it to the neglect of the cross, etc., which parts of Christendom have done.

The Two Sauls


“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19)

Moses told the children of Israel that they had two paths they could choose. He had set before them first the path of obedience to the Word of God. It is a path of life and blessing. But he had also presented the path of death and cursing. Moses could only tell them about the two paths, but they must choose. The same is true for us. The Bible tells us how to live so that our joy might be full. The Bible also warns us of the misery of choosing our own path.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12)

It is this choice I would like to speak about today.

Sometimes we wonder what causes a person to choose one path or the other. We see someone at the end of their life, full of joy in the Lord, and we wonder what is the secret? Or maybe we see someone at the end of their life and they’re miserable, and we wonder how did they get like this? It did not happen instantly. They made choices – one after another – that led them to their final destination.

I would like to examine the lives of two people in the Bible who had a similar beginning but had very different endings. Both men were Israelites. Both were very religious. Both were of the tribe of Benjamin. Both of them were from good families. Both had a promising future. In fact, both men had the same name, at least in English! In English, both are called Saul. Saul of the Old Testament and Saul of the New Testament. The name Saul means “asked for”… it means ‘a sought-after, privileged, or popular person’. Saul of the Old Testament and Saul in the New Testament both began as very popular people. The Bible describes in great detail the lives of both of these men; and they couldn’t have been more different!

Saul the Son of Kish

Let’s look first of all at Saul of the Old Testament. Saul had a very promising beginning.

In 1 Samuel 8, the people asked for a king. Samuel warned them what their king would be like, but they were adamant. 1 Sam. 8:19-22. Saul was the king the Lord chose for the people, because of their desire for a king. In 1 Samuel 9:1-3 we find that Saul was rich, tall, handsome, and popular. Do we think, “I want to be like him?” Wait… this is only the beginning.

Saul started out humble. When the people were seeking him to make him king, he hid himself.

“Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.” (1 Sam. 10:22)

If only he had remained humble! In the first few chapters, Saul does very well. He is made king over Israel, and in battle has victory over the Ammonites. But very soon afterwards. Saul began making choices that defined the course of his life. We all have choices to make as well, and we can let Saul’s life be a warning to us, to choose the better path.

Impatience (1 Samuel 13:8-14)

The first incident is in ch.13. It might seem at first like a small problem, but the Lord took it very seriously. It was a matter of patience. He was to wait for Samuel to come, and the seven days passed, and no Samuel. Saul took things into his own hands. If we don’t like the way things are going, rather than wait for God’ timing, we take things into our own hands. This is sin, and how easy it is to fall into the sin of impatience. Do I trust God? Can’t I simply rest, knowing that His way is perfect? The moment I act impatiently, I am acting as if I know better than God. Although it seems like such a small error, God says “your kingdom will not continue”.

Open Disobedience (1 Samuel 15:12)

The Lord decided that it was time to punish the Amalekites for what they had done many years earlier when Israel came out of Egypt. If you remember, they laid in wait for Israel and attacked the weak and slow moving travellers. The Lord told Saul to kill all of the Amalekites, including their animals. Instead, Saul spared the king and the animals. Even though Saul had disobeyed the Lord, he still maintained an outward facade of obedience;

“And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD” (1 Sam. 15:13)

Saul was a person who wanted to give others the impression that he was following the Lord, but in reality he was doing his own will. Saul tried to make the excuse that the people saved the animals to offer as a sacrifice to the Lord.

“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam 15:13, 21-22)

Obedience is the highest test of our love. Do you love God? Then you will obey God. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). God doesn’t want our worship without our obedience. Worship is empty, hollow, and fake unless it comes from a heart that is submitted to God’s will. God determined that because of Saul’s disobedience, his kingdom could not continue;

“And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.”

In the following chapter, Samuel was sent to anoint David to be king in the place of Saul. Notice that Saul, though he acknowledged his sin, wanted to maintain a good appearance to the people;

“Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.” (1 Sam. 15:28, 30).

Envy and Bitterness (1 Samuel 18:6-11)

After David defeated Goliath, Saul began to envy David, because the women started singing his praises; “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands”. Down deep, Saul wanted to be the greatest. He resented David because the people were praising him more than Saul. Envy is a serious sin, because it can become a root of bitterness, which leads to other forms of sin. Remember, it was envy that led the Jews to crucify the Lord Jesus (Matt. 27:18). If unjudged, envy can turn into bitterness, and bitterness is a root that ruin lives.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31)

But Saul was so full of himself, that David’s success bothered him. Is there someone in our life that we are envious of? Be careful… envy can destroy our life.

“And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Sam. 18:9-11).

Saul’s envy led to him attacking David with his javelin multiple times, which David avoided. Envy led Saul to hunt David for years through the countryside of Israel. Envy led Saul to give Michal, David’s wife, to another man, while David was on the run.

Saul’s wickedness rose to new heights when he had the priests of the Lord killed for helping David (1 Samuel 22:6-23). Twice (1 Sam. 24 and 1 Sam. 26), while Saul was hunting David in the woods, David had a chance to kill Saul, but refused to injure the king, because he was “the Lord’s anointed”. In both cases, Saul said that he was sorry, but then later continued to hunt David. The flesh is incorrigible. Saul had many opportunities to repent, but he continued on in his path of self will.

The Power of Darkness (1 Sam. 28)

In ch.28, Samuel died, and Saul was facing a battle with the Philistines. He cried to the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. How awful! Saul was terrified. Rather than submit to the government of God, he turned to the power of darkness (1 Samuel 28:6). The witch of Endor was able to summon a familiar spirit, which was a demon that knew about the dead person, and could imitate them. Both the witch and Saul were shocked when Samuel himself appeared! It was the power of God that brought up Samuel, but his message to Saul was.solemn; “the Lord has already spoken” (1 Sam. 28:16-19). Saul ate his last supper in the house of a witch.

Suicide (1 Sam. 31)

In ch.31, Saul and his army were defeated by the Philistines. Three of his sons were killed, and Saul was wounded. Totally alone, miserable, and afraid, Saul took his own life (1 Samuel 31:1-4).

How sad! How did Saul end up this way? It didn’t happen in an instant. Step by step, he chose a path that led toward an awful end. He had chose the “way which seemeth right unto a man,” but the end thereof was the way of death. He chose to act according to his own mind, rather than submitting to God. It started out with impatience. Unwilling to wait for God’s time. Then it proceeded to open disobedience. Then he became envious of David, and that envy consumed the rest of his life. Finally, he turned to the power of darkness, and then took his own life.

Saul’s problem at the root was self-importance. He thought the rules didn’t apply to him, therefore he could disobey. He couldn’t stand David’s success, because he thought it made him look weak. Above all, God wants reality in our lives. God chose another king, David, who was “a man after God’s own heart”. David wasn’t perfect, but he was genuine. And when David sinned, he repented.

Saul of Tarsus

No we turn to the other Saul (Acts 7:58; 8:1). He too a good beginning, as far as the world was concerned. He was well educated, and well-qualified as a young Jewish leader. But God stopped Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, when a light from heaven shined around him, and a voice that said “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul of the Old Testament persecuted David, but Saul of the New Testament persecuted the church, which is the body of Christ!

Submission and Obedience (Acts 9)

The first thing we see with Saul of Tarsus is is immediate submission and implicit obedience to the voice from heaven (9:3-8).Saul did not know who the Lord was;

“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” (Acts 9:5-6)

Saul immediately accepted that Jesus was his Lord, and was willing to do His will. This is a complete contrast to Saul in the OT who grew impatient and “forced” his own way.  How is it with us? Are we willing to submit to the Lord’s will? Are we willing to say, like Saul of Tarsus, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”


Saul went through a total transformation. Naturally, Saul had much to boast in.

“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:4-8). 

When you look at Saul’s resume, it is quite extensive. Ceremonially, ethnically, and religiously, he had much to boast in. From a religious standpoint, Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee. The word ‘pharisees’ means ‘the separate ones’. Concerning zeal or religious energy, Saul of Tarsus went so far as to lead the persecution against the church. Morally also, Saul was “blameless” as far as keeping the commandments and ordinances of the law. All of these things were what the flesh could boast in. Like Saul of the Old Testament, Saul of the New Testament could remain outwardly “blameless” (v.6) while at the same time being “the chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Religious flesh is insidious, because it is sin disguised as a cloak of godliness (John 16:2; Matt. 16:23).

Before he was saved, Paul thought of his successes in Judaism as “gain” or “advancement” (Gal. 1:14), but when he was converted he counted it “loss for Christ”. He even changed his own name from Saul to Paul. Saul means ‘asked for’, but Paul means ‘little’. He had become little in his own eyes. Grace makes us humble. What a change took place when that voice spoke to him from heaven, and the light shone around him! From now on, we will call him ‘Paul’!

Paul never lost as sense of his own sinful past. He could speak of himself as ‘the chief of sinners’, ‘the least of all saints’, and ‘not worthy to be called an apostle’. But is was this humility, as opposed to his former pride, that made the apostle Paul so different from Saul of the Old Testament.

Suffering and Joy

After his conversion, Paul went on to become perhaps the greatest servant of Christ. He received great revelations from the Lord. He unfolded the doctrine of the church, and out union with Christ. He took the gospel of God’s grace to the Gentiles, travelling thousands of miles. But his path was not without suffering.

He suffered first of all for the sake of Christ, and His church. The Lord said about Paul, “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). But Paul rejoiced in it. He was happy for the privilege to suffer for Christ.

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col. 1:24).

Before he was saved, Saul of Tarsus “persecuted” the church, and the Lord spoke to him about it when the light shined down of him from heaven; “why are you persecuting me?” Paul viewed his sufferings in service to the assembly as following Christ in His sufferings. What man, other than Christ, suffered as the Apostle Paul did for the saints? Read 2 Corinthians 11. These sufferings were not only emotional, but real physical persecution; “the tribulations of Christ in my flesh”.

In addition to suffering for Christ, Paul was give “a thorn for the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:1-3, 7-9). This “thorn” was some kind of physical or medical problem. It was given to Paul to keep him humble; “that I might not be exalted by the exceeding greatness of the revelations”. We don’t know what the “thorn” was exactly, but it could be something that was a natural barrier to Paul’s teaching and preaching, because he asked the Lord three times to remove it. In 2 Cor. 10:10, the Corinthians were saying about Paul; “his presence in the body [is] weak, and his speech [is] naught”. But after praying three times, the Lord answered, “My grace is sufficient for thee”.

We find in 2 Cor. 4:7-8 that God had another purpose as well, in allowing Paul to suffer so much.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassingness of the power may be of God, and not from us: every way afflicted, but not straitened; seeing no apparent issue, but our way not entirely shut up; persecuted, but not abandoned; cast down, but not destroyed; etc.”.

God’s power is amplified through our weakness. The knowledge of the glory of God is called a “treasure”, contained in “earthen vessels”, which are our human bodies. Paul here contrasts the treasure and the vessel. It was very wise of God to place the life of Christ in the power of the Spirit of God into frail human bodies, so that God would get the glory, and not man. Others looking on, knowing the weakness of the vessel, will be forced to see the hand of God at work. Our “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). In fact, the weaker the vessel, the more obvious the power of God. Physically, Paul was passing through deep trials. The vessel – his body – was being broken down; “troubled… perplexed… persecuted… cast down”. Nevertheless, God was with him, sustaining him! “Yet not distressed… yet not in despair… yet not forsaken… yet not destroyed”.

Christ was everything to Paul; more important than himself.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

Paul’s pathway was not easy. In addition to the persecution that he suffered, he also experienced betrayal, abandonment, and assembly problems. But no matter how difficult the pathway, Paul had a joy that could not be taken from him;

“At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).

The End of the Path

At the end of Paul’s life, he knew that he was going to be killed. Earlier, Paul said that he wanted to finish his course with joy (Acts 20:24). In his final letter, he said:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Many had abandoned Paul; “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15). Even one of his personal friends; “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world”. He felt the loneliness when he stood in court before Nero;

“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me” (2 Tim 4:10, 16-17).

Paul could never be alone. Saul of the Old Testament was truly alone. He ended his own life in complete fear and despair. But Paul could never be alone. He had committed his life to the Lord, and enjoyed a deep relationship with God his Father.


So, which Saul do we want to be like. Remember, there are two paths before you. The path that leads to life, and the path that leads to death. Someone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ can never be lost, but if we live according to our own will, our life can become shipwrecked.

If we live our lives like Saul of the Old Testament (religious, proud, and disobedient) we are sure to end up miserable. But if we live our lives like Saul, or Paul, of the New Testament (obedient, repentant, and humble) we are sure to end up rejoicing. Which path will we choose?

Q&A: Cross Necklace

QMany Christians wear the cross on a necklace or a ring as a symbol. Is it right for a Christian to do this?

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AWhenever questions like this arise that deal with clothing or outward appearance we need to be extremely careful with our answers. Do we have a direct command? Or do we have general principles that apply? I know of no scripture that would directly prohibit a believer from wearing a cross necklace. However, there are principles in the Word of God that pertain to the practice of wearing crosses.

First, the cross has been made into something that is attractive to the world and to the flesh, whereas in scripture the cross is a symbol of shame and reproach.

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Crucifixion was a shameful method of execution, reserved for the worst criminals; the outcasts of society. The cross as a symbol did not come into use for over a hundred years after the death of Christ, and even then it did not become popular until the fourth century when Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire. Christians in the days of Roman persecution understood what the cross meant. Many of them had seen actual crucifixions, including those of Christian martyrs. But when the church rose in worldly prominence, it lost a sense of what the cross means as far as separation from the world. Before long, the cross began to be represented as a golden, glimmering thing worn as a body ornament, or at the front of a cathedral. It has been made into something that draws admiration from the world, and even unbelievers.

Second, many Christians, especially in the Orthodox or Roman churches, use the cross as a good luck charm, or as an object which adds efficacy to their prayers. This is a practice that borders on idolatry.

Third, there is nothing in scripture that would remotely suggest Christians should wear the cross as a body ornament. Some would appeal to the Lord’s words in Matt. 10:38, 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23. However, these passages clearly refer to the disciple’s willingness to suffer and be rejected. Furthermore, it says “his cross” referring to the believer, rather than “my cross” referring to the cross of Christ.

In spite of these points, the cross has become a widely-accepted symbol of Christianity. There are many believers who wear the cross to publicly identify themselves as Christians, and do so in devotion to Christ. This is a commendable motive! It is likely that many of them are ignorant of what the scriptures say about the cross as a symbol. We know that even when we do things that are unintelligent, if our motive is right, at least our desire is pleasing to God.

“So that do not judge anything before the time, until the Lord shall come, who shall also both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and shall make manifest the counsels of hearts; and then shall each have his praise from God.” (1 Cor. 4:5)

My conclusion is that is it not intelligent for the believer to wear a golden cross, given the weight of scripture regarding the meaning of the cross. However, I would not condemn those who do so, especially where the motive is good.

Q&A: Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus

QExplain the difference between the names Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus.

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ABoth names refer to the same Person: the Son of God. However the order of the names is different. Jesus was the name the Son was given in manhood (Matt. 1). Christ is the title given to the promised Messiah, who would be Prophet, Priest, and King. The name Christ therefore brings out the Son in His official glories. The Son has not yet been glorified here on the earth, but He has in heaven. Those of faith recognize Him as Christ, exalted at God’s right hand.

When the order is Jesus Christ, the emphasis is often on our Lord’s humanity.

“… Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)

When the order is Christ Jesus, it often brings before us His position as a heavenly and exalted man. This order is found almost exclusively in Paul’s epistles. When expounding the believer’s position before God, Paul is careful to say “in Christ” or “in Christ Jesus” because our position is a heavenly one.

“… and has raised us up together, and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6)

The two are brought together in Eph. 1:1. Paul refers to himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ” and to the saints as “saints and faithful in Christ Jesus”. When it is Paul’s service, it is connected with Christ in manhood. When it is the believer’s position, it is connected with Christ in glory!

Q&A: Jesus Glorified, the Spirit Sent

QWhy was it necessary for Jesus to be glorified before the Holy Spirit could be sent?

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AThere are several passages that show clearly that the sending of the Holy Spirit was consequent on the glorification of Jesus at God’s right hand:

“… the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39)

“This Jesus has God raised up, whereof all we are witnesses. Having therefore been exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which ye behold and hear.” (Acts 2:32-33)

It is clear that the Holy Spirit could not have been sent before Jesus was glorified, but this does answer the question of why. Acts 2:32-33 gives us an indication that the sending of the Holy Spirit, called “the promise of the Spirit”, is connected with Christ’s exaltation. It would seem that the gift of the Spirit was in response to the Father’s satisfaction with the work of the cross (John 13:31-22). In other words, the Father was so delighted with the finished work of His Beloved Son, that He gave to Christ the promise of the Spirit, which He then sent down to the earth.

Another point also might help us with this question. That is, the unity that was formed when the Holy Spirit was sent down on the Day of Pentecost was the union of believers one to another as members of the body of Christ, and the union of the members to their Head in heaven (Christ Himself). See 1 Cor. 12:12-13, Col. 1:18; 2:19. It was fitting then that before the body was formed on earth, the Head would be glorified in heaven!

To Reveal His Son in Me

A few weeks ago I picked up a piece of scrap wood and started to carve a toy for my son. I recall an older boy carving me a toy knife when I was about my son’s age, and it was a treasured possession for an eight-year-old boy! As the knife began taking shape, I showed the work-in-progress to my son, who took an interest in what I was doing.

“How do you do it?” he asked. “I remove parts of the wood that I don’t want to remain” I replied. “How do you know what parts to remove and what to leave?” he further asked. I tried to explain that I have an image in my mind of the finished product, and I was simply whittling away the extra – the unwanted – material.

It reminded me of God’s work with us. God is working in our lives to remove those things that are unwanted, the character flaws, the “weights”, the unjudged sin in our lives. He has an image in mind that He is seeking to reveal in each of His children.

“God, who set me apart even from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” (Galatians 1:15-16)

God had a purpose for Paul, and singled him out from his “mother’s womb”. God has a plan for each one of us, and that plan existed before we ever had a thought toward God. Paul was called in time by the grace of God. God’s purpose in saving Paul, in a general sense, is the same as what God desires for all believers; to reveal His Son in each one of us. God is seeking to reproduce the life of the Son of God in the each one of our lives (3 Cor. 3:18; 4:6; Col. 1:27).

This work of God in our lives is what we sometimes call spiritual growth. It is something that God takes a keen interest in. You may have already noticed that this subject comes up frequently in scripture.

Recently, our family finished the book of Hebrews, and at the end we came across these beautiful verses:

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

What a MAGNIFICENT prayer! It touches so many subjects, wrapping them up in one sentence: the Person of Christ, the work of Christ, the shepherding care of Christ, the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the glory of Christ. In the middle, God’s work in our lives to transform us, and make us full grown, to do His will and be pleasing to Him!

When we see Christ that work will finally be complete; “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2)! Notwithstanding, the work of transformation has already begun. Day by day, lesson by lesson, trial by trial, experience by experience, God is working to conform us to the image of His Son. If we could only see how this (sometimes painful) process of spiritual growth will end, what a difference it would make in our outlook.

We shall behold Him, whom not seen we love,
We shall be with Him, whom we long to see;
We shall be like Him, fit for realms above,
With Him, and like Him, for eternity!
Is now to sit at Jesus’ feet our choice?
How will fruition then our souls rejoice!

Disorders in the Body of Christ

The body of Christ is no mere concept. It is a spiritual reality. The body of Christ was formed on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit of God was sent down to the earth, and indwelt the believers there present, linking them to Christ in heaven. Believers on earth who have the Spirit indwelling them are members of the body (Rom. 12:5). Christ in heaven in the head of the body (Col. 1:18). Christ’s mind is to be displayed by His body on earth. The Holy Spirit is the one who directs the members of the body; similar to how the nervous system in the human body works.

The Human Body. Paul gives a powerful treatise on the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12. He draws numerous parallels between the physical human body and the mystical body of Christ.

 “For even as the [human] body is one and has many members, but all the members of the [human] body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ [mystical].” (1 Cor. 12:12)

I’ve given some thought to the parallels between the physical human body and the mystical body of Christ. Has the church lived up to it’s responsibility as the body? Well let’s see; God’s intention is “that there might be no division in the body, but that the members might have the same concern one for another” (1 Cor. 12:25). Has the body of Christ remained undivided in practice? No. There are well over 10,000 denominations or groups in Christendom. 

This got me to thinking, if we had the same problems in our physical bodies that we do in the body of Christ, what might those “diseases” be? I looked at the leading fatal diseases in the world today, and found a remarkable similarity to the problems in the Church.

Before I go on, let’s be clear about one thing: the body of Christ is viewed in scripture as perfect and complete. In practice, the Church is disease-ridden, but through the eternal viewpoint of God, it is perfect through the work of Christ.

There are many things that can be learned from the diseases that plague humans today. May we apply this lessons from the natural world into our spiritual relationships in the body of Christ!

Heart and Pulmonary Disease: Lack of Love

The number one killer in the world today is heart disease. I think it is not a stretch to translate this to the greatest problem in the Church: a lack of love. After addressing the body of Christ in ch. 12, Paul went on to speak of the need for love in the body of Christ. “If… I have not love, I am nothing.” The root of so many divisions and troubles in the assembly is a lack of love for one another.

Cancer: Worldly Ideas & Principles

The second greatest killer is cancer. In the New Testament we read of doctrines and principles that can come into the assembly and spread like cancer, or gangrene. “And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus” (2 Tim. 2:17). In Galatia the Judaizing teachers were bringing in evil doctrine in the form of legalism, and Paul warned that would grow and spread (Gal. 5:9)… before long, many in that region would be consumed with it. In Corinth and in Colosse there was a danger to bring natural wisdom in to the assembly; “the words which man’s wisdom teacheth” (1 Cor. 2:13); “beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). The solution to cancer is to remove the evil doctrine, and then stick to the Word of God. As Paul exhorted, we must “learn… the lesson of not letting your thoughts go above what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), but rather “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

Infection: Sin & Defilement

Another serious condition to the human body is infection. Infection occurs when bacteria or other pathogens from outside the body invade the body and begin to multiply. Infections must be treated quickly, because they can spread and quickly cause lasting damage. This reminds me of moral evil, which spreads similar to doctrinal evil, if it goes on unjudged. The solution to moral evil, when it has invaded the assembly, it to “purge out therefore the old leaven” (1 Cor. 5:7).

Paralysis: Quenching the Spirit

The next two disorders are not necessarily fatal, but they do seriously hamper the normal functioning of the body. Paralysis occurs when the nerves that lead from the brain to the members are damaged or disconnected. The nerves carry electrical signals from the brain to the muscles and sensors of the body, much the way the Spirit of God guides the members of Christ’s body according to the wishes of our heavenly Head. “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Cor. 12:11). If we do not act upon the prompting of the Spirit, we are like paralyzed limbs. The Head has certain thoughts and desires, but the members just won’t move! Failing to act upon the Spirit’s leading is called “quenching the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). This is the error of “not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2:19).

Dyskinesia: Grieving the Spirit

The opposite disorder from paralysis is dyskinesia. Dyskinesia is the disease of uncontrolled muscle movement. You can put it this way; paralysis is not moving when you should, dyskinesia is moving when you shouldn’t! Dyskinesia corresponds to grieving the Spirit; acting independently of the leading of the Spirit according to the directions of the Head. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). Habitually grieving the Spirit of God can lead to chronic spiritual numbness… where we become desensitized to the leading of the Spirit. The Corinthians had a problem with this, and Paul wrote to correct it (1 Cor. 14:26). When we are following the leading of the Spirit, all things will “be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). 

Autoimmune Disorders: Division and Infighting

The next disorder is a serious one: autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is an unnatural phenomena where a person’s immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. This reminds me of division and strife in the body of Christ. We need to remember that we are ONE in Christ. If we attack each other, we are only hurting ourselves. “Wherefore, having put off falsehood, speak truth every one with his neighbour, because we are members one of another.” (Eph. 4:25). Remember that if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it (1 Cor. 12:25). It is one of Satan’s strategies to divide the saints of God, and stir up strife between us (2 Cor. 2:11).  

Atrophy: Chronic Weakness from Lack of Exercise

Atrophy is a condition of the body where muscles become weak and shrunken through lack of nourishment or exercise. Each member of the body of Christ has a gift from the Lord. We are responsible to used that gift. If we don’t use it, it will go to waste, just like the muscles in our body. Paul told Timothy “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Tim. 4:14) and “stir up the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6). We need to remember to use our gift! Put it to good use.


These illustrations from the disorders our physical bodies face are simple reminders of the far deeper challenges that we face in the body of Christ. May God give us the discernment to see these disorders developing in the early stages, that the people of God might be preserved from great heartache and sorrow, and much dishonor brought to the name of Christ. Let us also remember that all nourishment in the body of Christ flows down to the members from Christ the head; “from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2:19).

Q&A: Resurrection of Old Testament Saints

QWhen are the Old Testament saints raised? At the rapture or the appearing of Christ?

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AThis question is hotly debated among Christians. However, a review of several scriptures will settle this issue, and show that Old Testament saints will be raised at the rapture along with the Church.

First, Hebrews 11:40 says, “God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” This hints that the Old Testament saints will be “made perfect” (glorified, including raised bodies) at the same time as Christians who have died. By comparing with 1 Thessalonians 4, we know this will take place at the rapture.1

Second, 1 Corinthians 15:23 says, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” In 1 Thessalonians 4 it is “the dead in Christ”, which would be Christians strictly. But in 1 Corinthians 15, it is “they that are Christ’s”, which is broader, including all those of faith who have died. Of course, we must couple this with 1 Thessalonians 4 to see that the resurrection of 1 Corinthians 15 takes place at the rapture.2

In this case Old Testament Saints would be part of the “twenty-four elders” in Revelation 4-22, who witness the judgments of the earth from heaven, seated around the throne of God.

A common passage some would use to show that Old Testament saints are raised at the appearing would be Daniel 12:2; “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame, to everlasting contempt.” However, I believe this is rather a reference to the national resurrection of Israel, similar to Ezekiel 37, the ‘valley of dry bones’. It is not talking about the bodily resurrection of Old Testament saints.

Q&A: Our Position Toward the Jews

QWhat should our position toward the Jews be in lieu of Matt. 27:25; “His blood be on us and on our children”?

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AThis question is hard to answer without going into dispensational truth and prophecy. First we must see the difference between the Nation of Israel and individuals who are of Jewish ethnicity. Israel as a nation stands guilty of the blood of Christ (Zech. 12; Matt. 27:25), but as individuals the Jews are in the same position as the Gentiles. Concerning the Jews today, Paul clearly states that “there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22; 10:12). Jews are in need of a Savior just like the Gentiles. Paul could say, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved” (Rom. 10:1).

The Present and Future Condition of the Nation

As a nation, God has purposed to bring the Jews into a position of blessing in the future kingdom and reign of Christ. However, there are two great issues that need to be settled before that can occur. The first issue is idolatry, and the second is their blood-guiltiness in connection with crucifying Christ. Because of idolatry, the Jews were taken out of their land by the Babylonians, although a remnant was later allowed to return. Because they crucified the Messiah, the Jews were taken out of their land by the Romans in 70 A.D. These two issues must be dealt with before the Jews can be established in Palestine with God’s blessing. There is a modern nation of Israel living in Palestine today, but without God’s blessing, according to Dan. 9:26 “…unto the end, war… the desolations determined.”

Today Israel is outwardly in the state of “Lo-ammi” (Hos. 1:9), which means “not my people”. But God has a purpose to bless and restore them; “it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, it shall be said unto them, Sons of the living God” (Hos. 1:10). The future blessing of Israel is unshakably secured by the faithfulness of God:

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, [then] the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Jer. 31:35-37)

Persecution of Jews by Christians

Down through the centuries “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25) has been used by Christians and anti-semitic groups to justify the genocide of the Jews. The Crusaders used it to justify the massacre of thousands. The Nazi’s used it to stir up German anger against the Jews. In their propaganda, they called the Jews “Christ-killers”.1 This is nothing more than man seeking religious justification for his murderous agenda. Sadly, many Christians have been affected by anti-semitic propaganda down through the years. Even Martin Luther grew weary with the Jews’ rejection of the gospel, and wrote a 65,000-word book titled ‘On the Jews and Their Lies’ in 1543:

"What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? … I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians… Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. … Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, [etc.] be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. … Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. … Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. … Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow [i.e. forced labor]. … Burn down their synagogues, … force them to work, and deal harshly with them, as Moses did in the wilderness, slaying three thousand lest the whole people perish."
-- Martin Luther, 1543

Importance of Sound Dispensational and Church Doctrine

Having a sound understanding of dispensational truth, Church truth, and prophetic truth will preserve us from getting caught up in wrong thoughts about the earthly people of God. God is not finished with Israel, and we should look upon them with love, not hatred. Luther and others did not understand the scheme of God’s ways with men on the earth. He did not understand that God will one day restore and bless the nation of Israel.

Understanding dispensational truth goes hand-in-hand with understanding Church truth. Luther also did not properly understand the nature and role of the Church in the world. He did progress a good deal from the Roman Catholic position by positing the doctrine of the two governments (or two kingdoms), but only went so far as to say that the Church should keep its hands off the secular governments and the secular governments should not interfere with the Church. But he never really embraced the true character of the Church; i.e. her heavenly calling, and place altogether outside the arena of God’s governmental dealings with the earth. The Church should never take it on herself to execute the judgment of God on the world (1 Cor. 6). She should never view herself as a sword or scourge used by God for the punishment of evil (Matt. 13:30).

We are to be intelligent about our own position as a heavenly people, and about Israel as an earthly people. We can see the troubles that the Jews have fallen into down through the centuries are part of the government of God. But while we acknowledge that God’s government exists, we know that the Church has no business executing His judgment. We will be involved in government in the Millennium, but not today.

Christian Zionism without Moderation

Should Christians be involved with giving financial and military support to the nation of Israel today? To be clear, we are not talking about showing love and kindness to individual Jews, nor are we talking about preaching the gospel to them. We are talking about large movements within Christianity to influence the governments of the West (especially the United States) to support and offer protection to the nation of Israel from their enemies.

Isaiah 18 bears on this point. Isaiah 18 warns of a far off country “beyond the rivers of Cush” or outside the regions between the Nile and Euphrates that “shadows with wings” (extends protection to) the nation of Israel. God has a controversy with Israel, and this outside entity is reaching in to interfere with the government of God. This action on the part of the West to protect the nation of Israel will culminate in a covenant of protection (Dan. 9:27) for seven years. But it will not be enough to shield them from what is coming. The remainder of Isa. 18 shows that God will look upon this with displeasure, and all of man’s efforts to protect and nourish the land of Israel will fail due to a crushing wave of judgment. Should Christians be involved in activity that God condemns? No. We need to be careful that we do not attempt to interfere with the government of God.

Summary and Conclusion

My conviction is that our position toward the Jews in lieu of Matt. 27:25 ought to be:
  1. motivated by love, to present the gospel to the Jews as individuals, and
  2. to recognize that the nation today is under the government of God, but will one day be restored.

Q&A: Father, Forgive them

QSince Israel is guilty of crucifying their Messiah, what practical effect did the Lord’s statement in Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” have upon the Jews?

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AIn general, I believe the Lord’s prayer on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” reveals the Lord’s heart with respect to sinful man. It was not His desire to impute sin to man, but to forgive him. In this way He reflected the mind and heart of God; “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor. 5:19).

In relation to the Jews, “Father, forgive them” is closely connected with the provisional offer held out to Israel in the first seven chapters of the book of Acts.

The sending of the Messiah, God’s Son, was the final test God had for the nation of Israel. We see this in the parable of the husbandmen in Matthew 21, and Mark 12. “Having yet therefore one beloved son, he sent also him to them the last, saying, They will have respect for my son. But those husbandmen said to one another, This is the heir: come, let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours.” The nation of Israel is guilty of the death of Christ, inasmuch as they called for His crucifixion, uttering the solemn vow, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). Note that this guilt is in a national sense, not individually.

In the law we find that a woman’s vow could be annulled by her father or husband if he heard it on the day she said it (Num.30:5, 8, 12). The Lord Jesus did just that for Israel! In grace, after being lifted up on the cross, Jesus “made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12) when He cried “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.1 He sealed the sin of the crucifixion as a sin of ignorance (the ignorance of unbelief), and on that basis God could give an extension of grace to Israel after the cross, which we read of in Acts 1-7. For example, Peter preached, “And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come , etc.” (Acts 3:17-21). God had opened an offer of forgiveness to Israel, provisional on their receiving the witness of the Spirit. We can read in Hebrews 2:4, for example, that God was bearing them witness “both by signs and wonders, and various acts of power, and distributions of the Holy Spirit, according to his will”. If Israel would receive this witness, and repent of their sin, God would bring in the times of refreshing; the Millennial reign of Christ. Some did receive that witness, and fled to Christ for refuge (Heb. 6:18), Himself becoming a city of refuge for the “manslayer”.

However, the nation at large rejected that provisional offer, and Stephen speaks to those who rejected it according to their responsibility as murderers, as we see in Acts 7:52; “the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers. Stephen was raised up to bear witness to Israel’s rejection, both of Christ, but also of the Spirit; “O stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers, ye also” (Acts 7:51). This is why Saul of Tarsus was not raised up to unfold the truth of the Church until the provisional offer to Israel was rejected, and Stephen was stoned.

Nevertheless, though Israel is certainly guilty (as a nation, not individually), the prayer “Father, forgive them…” still has efficacy with God on Israel’s behalf. Through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross, Christ has opened a path for Israel’s future restoration. But when they are restored, Israel will have to acknowledge that sin, repent of it nationally (Zech. 12:10), and acknowledge the price that had to be paid for their restoration; i.e. the very life that they took – as far as responsibility is concerned “taken”, though in actuality it was “laid down” of Himself – has become the basis of the expiation of that very sin (Deut. 21:1-9).

To summarize, the Lord’s prayer of forgiveness on the cross did not absolve Israel of their blood-guiltiness, but it did become the basis for God to offer a provisional pardon to the nation.

Judgment Committed to the Son

“For neither does the Father judge any one, but has given all judgment to the Son; that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who honours not the Son, honours not the Father who has sent him.” John 5:22-23

God the Father will not be the judge of men. He has relinquished that right, and now the Son of God alone holds the issue of judgment in His hand. But why? These verses explain why exclusive judgment is given to the Son.

He says of the Jews that “they honour the Father”. In what way did they honor the Father? From the context of these verses we know that the Jews honored the Father – in a certain sense – because they did not deny that the Father was God.

But when Jesus, the Son of Man came, the Jews did not give Him that same honor (v.22). The Son, coming incarnate, “came unto His own and His own received him not”. As a man He was vulnerable to be – and was – personally dishonored, rejected, and despised of men. In a certain sense, the Father was exempt from their injuries because He did not become a man.

But the Father will see to it that His Son is honored as God… by all men. Consequently, all judgment is committed unto the Son, in order that all – even those who have rejected the Son – should be forced to honor him, even as they honor the Father. One day, those who have denied Him will come face to face with the Man Christ Jesus as their judge… and they will know that He is God, and thus honor Him.

… [The Father] has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is Son of man. John 5:27

As the Son of Man (the Lord’s title in relation to all of mankind) Christ is given authority to judge. Had He remained only Son of God (the Lord’s title in relation to the Godhead), who would have dared to despise or insult Him? The light of His glory would have consumed instantly every enemy that opposed Him.

Remember, it was His grace in becoming man (Phil. 2:6, 7) to save us which made Him vulnerable to rejection. For this reason, the Father has seen that the Son alone will be the judge of men.

Global Righteousness & Peace

There is only one Person who can bring about worldwide righteousness, peace, and happiness. That Person was rejected 2000 years ago, given a criminal’s torturous execution, and His name has been used as a curse-word ever since. When He finally returns and sets this world right, it will be a shock to many… “so shall he astonish many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him.” They will be shocked because“his visage was so marred [for the last 2000 years] more than any man, and his form more than the children of men” (Isa. 52:14-15). Why should we look to the politicians of this world to bring in righteousness, when this world has “denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life” (Acts 3:14-15)? We know how it will end, when the “kings of the earth set themselves, and the princes plot together, against Jehovah and against his anointed” (Psa. 2:2), when “the kings of the earth and their armies are gathered together to make war against Him that sat upon the horse, and against His army” (Rev. 19:19). All this makes one give up any hope in a corrupted human race. It makes one listen to Isaiah’s warning “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for what account is to be made of him?” (Isa. 2:22) It will then attach my hopes to a foundation that can never be shaken (Heb. 12:27), to Christ who is the Nail fastened in a sure place (Isa. 22:25), and to His Word, “which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

Being PESSIMISTIC about man’s prospects, and yet OPTIMISTIC about God’s purpose, I can rejoice that one day “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Heb. 2:14).

This is what comes to mind when reading the great Millennial Psalm written by David for his own son Solomon, but which is prophetic of great David’s Greater Son, the Messiah of Israel, the Saviour of sinners, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. It is a prophetic description of what the Millennium will be like under Christ’s administration. I enjoyed reading it this morning and thought I’d pass it on to you.

Psalm 72

For Solomon.

O God, give the king thy judgments, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. He will judge thy people with righteousness, and thine afflicted with judgment. The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the hills, by righteousness. He will do justice to the afflicted of the people; he will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor. They shall fear thee as long as sun and moon endure, from generation to generation.

He shall come down like rain on the mown grass, as showers that water the earth. In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon be no more. And he shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. The dwellers in the desert shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer tribute: Yea, all kings shall bow down before him; all nations shall serve him. For he will deliver the needy who crieth, and the afflicted, who hath no helper; He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and will save the souls of the needy: He will redeem their souls from oppression and violence, and precious shall their blood be in his sight. And he shall live; and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba; and prayer shall be made for him continually: all the day shall he be blessed.

There shall be abundance of corn in the earth, upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall bloom like the herb of the earth. His name shall endure for ever; his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall bless themselves in him; all nations shall call him blessed.

Blessed be Jehovah Elohim, the God of Israel, who alone doeth wondrous things! And blessed be his glorious name for ever! and let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen, and Amen.

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

Q&A: Baptism of the Holy Ghost

QWhich do you think is more accurate? The Baptism of the Spirit of God was a corporate act on the day of Pentecost that…

  1. was later extended to take in the Gentiles (Acts 10), or
  2. would never be repeated. Gentiles were added to the Church later as any other Christians down through the centuries.
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AFrom 1 Corinthians 12:13, we can say for sure that the baptism of the Spirit is connected with the formation of the Body of Christ. We also know from Acts 1:4-5 that the baptism with the Holy Ghost would occur in Jerusalem specifically (not Samaria or Caesarea). This points to the Baptism of the Spirit as a one-time event that took place on the Day of Pentecost.
As to what followed in Acts 10, I do not know of a scriptural basis to say the Gentiles were received into the body of Christ any differently than a person today (through believing the gospel), except for the fact that God was making a public introduction of the Gentiles. It was a special event in that sense, but it was not a repetition of the baptism of the Spirit.
“If the baptism of the Holy Ghost has taken place at Pentecost, does Scripture carry the thought that it is ever to be repeated? I believe distinctly not. The Holy Ghost has come, He is here. The baptism of the Spirit has been received, and there is, consequently, no fresh baptism to be looked for.” – W.T.P. Wolston

Prophetic Events Lectures Posted


I have added the video from the presentation given 6/19/2016 on the Millennium and Eternal State. Feel free to email me with questions.

Original Post:

I’ve added a page with the videos from the recent meetings on prophetic events. We will add more videos as we finish the series with the Millennial Reign of Christ, and the Eternal State.

Q&A: Holy Men of God

Q2 Peter 1:21 says that “holy men of God” were moved to write the scriptures. What about a case like Balaam where he uttered the words of God yet he was far from holy?

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AThis question touches on the subject of inspiration. The verse in 2 Peter states that God used instruments that were holy (saints) in the process of inspiration. It is important to see that the actual men who spoke or wrote the inspired words were holy men. While it is true that Balaam was far from holy, the one who penned the words (Moses) certainly was a holy man.
“Prophecy was not ever uttered by the will of man, but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit” 2 Peter 1:21
Also, I believe the force of 2 Peter 1:21 is that the power behind inspiration is the Holy Ghost, not the flesh. So, keeping this in mind, read the verse again. Although they were holy men, it still wasn’t by human power that they wrote the scriptures. It was Divine power. Therefore the source of inspiration is the primary emphasis, and the Spirit’s choice of a vessel is in keeping with the character of the Source; i.e. holy men used by the Holy Spirit.

Q&A: Taking Away from God’s Word

QWhat is the meaning of “taking away the words of the prophecy of this book” in Rev. 22:19? Is it possible for a believer to commit this sin and lose their salvation?
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AI believe that this is referring to one who is selective about which parts of the Bible are the Word of God because he or she doesn’t want to accept all of it. Could it be as literal as someone “printing a bible with missing verses, etc.?” Yes, it could include that. But I think it there are more subtle ways of subtracting from the Word of God. Here is the text:

“And if any one take from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19)

Note that the term “book of life” should really be translated “tree of life”. The tree of life is a picture of Christ Himself (raised from the dead as the head of the New Creation) and the holy city is a picture of the Church. The one who discounts portions of God’s Word will not have a part in Christ or His Church.

Also, where is says “and from the things that are written in this book” the words “and from” have been added (not to pun) by the translators. So if you read it without them you get more clearly the meaning: if any man takes away… etc., then God will take away his part in Christ and the Church, which are written in this book. So, the “things written in this book” ARE Christ and His Church.

The question then is, if the penalty is eternal separation from Christ and the Church, can this happen to a real believer? I would call on the many other scriptures which say we can never lose our salvation, e.g. John 10:28: “I give them life eternal; and they shall never perish, and no one shall seize them out of my hand.” Therefore, Rev. 22:19 must refer to a person who was never a real believer, but one who only had had a part in Christ and His Church by profession, not in reality.

One more thing… what are “the words of the book of this prophecy”? Is it just Revelation, or the whole Bible? I’m not sure. Me feeling is that “this book” is specifically Revelation, but that in principle it includes the whole Bible. One thing that I believe supports this possible meaning is that the Book of Revelation is written to the Church, to address the ruin of the Church, and to have a moral effect upon her conscience. If someone tampers with any book of the Bible it will likely be with the one that hurts their conscience the most! A good reason why the principle of Rev. 22:19 might encompass the whole Word of God is that Revelation ties together many other books of the Bible, including Old and New Testaments. If you tamper with this book, you tamper with them all.

Q&A: What Will Happen to Unbelievers After the Rapture?

QWhat will happen to unbelievers after the rapture? Please specifically address those who live in the sphere of professing Christianity.
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AThose who have not believed the gospel of the grace of God will be left behind when the rapture takes place (1 Thess. 4:17). Unbelievers will be faced with the horrors of the tribulation period.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 we learn that God has prepared a special judgment for those who ultimately reject the gospel. When Antichrist emerges, “all” those who have “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”, will be drawn into his delusion, and they will meet their end with the man of sin; “that they all might be damned” (2 Thess. 2:12). This does not include those who have not heard or understood the gospel.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12

Antichrist will be revealed at the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week, and that is the point at which Christ-rejecters are swept up into the apostasy. The delusion is connected with Antichrist being revealed, not with the rapture, as some have speculated. These ones are akin to those in Revelation called “the earth-dwellers”, a class of individuals opposed to God and His purpose. They have rejected the best that heaven has to offer and chosen earth; they eventually become followers of the Beast rather than followers of the Lamb. Two things are said of those who are swept up in the delusion:
  1. They “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” This is clearly speaking of the truth of the Word of God presented to a person. When someone is born again, they have a new life that loves the truth. These ones refuse it.
  2. They “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” Not only do they refuse it but they “believe it not”. In order to disbelieve something you have to hear it. Paul tells us that justification is by faith alone. These are those when believe not. Furthermore, they have “pleasure in unrighteousness.” This gives us the positive reason why they reject the gospel: they love their unrighteous lifestyle, and don’t want it to change.
What will be the end of these unbelievers? “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned.” They will be deceived by the lies of the Antichrist. There will be great confusion at that time, pictured by clouds of smoke that blot out the sun (Rev. 9:2). The “strong delusion” is sent by God as a judgment (2 Thess. 2:11), but the lie itself is from Satan, and promulgated by the False Prophet. God will judicially blind these ones to the obvious truth, and harden their hearts as He hardened Pharaoh’s heart many years ago. This is consistent with the ways of God in His government. Whenever truth is rejected, a person opens themselves up to the blinding influence of Satan (2 Cor. 4:4). Earth-dwellers will be swept up into the delusion of Antichrist (Rev. 13:14), and will meet with the awful judgment that Revelation predicts for the followers of the Beast. 
This is the terrible end of those who ultimately reject what the Thessalonians had believed (“our gospel”, 2 Thess. 2:14). Sadly, many will find themselves in this condition, and among them are those who have made a false profession, for whom the strongest language is reserved. In the parable of the virgins, the foolish virgins represent those with a profession (lamp) but no indwelling Spirit (oil). The foolish virgins find (to their horror) that when the wise virgins go into the marriage, the door is shut (Matt. 25:8-13). This indicates that those left behind after the rapture in an empty profession of Christianity will have no opportunity to believe the gospel then preached, and are thus eternally damned.
“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matt. 25:8-13
The testimony of scripture is to urge the sinner to turn NOW to Christ for salvation, and flee the coming wrath. The door of mercy is open now, but one day it will be closed, and there is no hope for those found outside when that day comes.

“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Luke 13:25-27

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” Hebrews 2:3

Q&A: Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

QPlease explain the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:30-31) as it relates to sins not being forgiven? How does this co-exist with the thought of the blood of Christ forever dealing with all sin?
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AThis is an excellent question, and I would like to broaden my response to include the common concern about this issue with regard to eternal security. The text is Matthew 12:30-31

“For this reason I say unto you, Every sin and injurious speaking shall be forgiven to men, but speaking injuriously of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the coming one.” (Matthew 12:30-31)
Who can commit blasphemy against the Holy Ghost? Strictly speaking, these verse apply to those to whom the Lord was speaking; the class of apostate Jewish leaders who had witnessed first-hand the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is speaking to a class of persons, later called "this generation" (see note). However, He does say "whosoever" bringing forward the consequences for individuals who find themselves in that class. Hebrews makes it clear that the testimony of the Holy Spirit continued after the Lord was on earth; "so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will…" (Heb. 2:3-4). It is not even possible, technically speaking, to blaspheme the Holy Ghost today, as the Lord and His apostles are no longer here.
What about today? However, there is a solemn passage in Hebrews which applies this same principle to Christianity. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God ...and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:28, 29). In this sense, it is possible for a person today to commit despite to the Spirit of grace. Who can do that? Only an apostate. An apostate is one who once had a profession of Christianity and partook of its blessings, but then fell away from "the faith", never truly having possessed "saving faith". Merely rejecting the gospel does not constitute blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. There were those who "were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come" and yet remained unconverted. If they were to reject that testimony of the Spirit, "it is impossible… to renew them again unto repentance." Incorrect use has been made of this verse to teach that the believer's security is conditional, and that it is possible, once saved, to be lost again. This is false, for it denies many other scriptures, such as John 10:27-29. Only an unbeliever could really say with open-eyed, deliberate hatred toward God, that the Holy Spirit is demonic.
Governmental Forgiveness vs. Eternal Forgiveness. We must bear in mind that there are several aspects of forgiveness. Eternal forgiveness is not spoken of prior to the cross. It is most often governmental forgiveness that is taken up. Governmental forgiveness is divine exemption from the governmental consequences of our sins in this life. A person may remain under the government of God until death, perhaps due to an unforgiving spirit, but then go to heaven (Matthew 6:14-15). Here the Lord is speaking to the leaders of apostate Israel. Israel will never again be forgiven this blasphemy and restored to Jehovah en masse. To be clear, they will be nationally restored (Rom. 11:26), but it will be through a remnant. You can see that it is governmental forgiveness because the Lord jumps forward to the millennium; "neither in that age which is to come". Certainly, those who he was speaking to have long since died. But that same moral class will be present at the close of this epoch, and they will not be allowed to enjoy the blessings of the Spirit in the Millennium. They had "tasted" of the Spirit's grace, and rejected it. And while a remnant will be brought into the full enjoyment of the Spirit in the Kingdom, the apostate ruling class will be cut off in the Great Tribulation judgment. However, in that the individuals within the class of "blasphemers" are apostates, the consequences are eternal; for "it shall not be forgiven him".
Sin against the Holy Ghost. What about believers? What word does this subject have for our conscience? The Holy Ghost is on earth indwelling the House of God. We are exhorted to walk uprightly in light of this fact "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption" (Eph. 4:30).

One particular evil that has pervaded the Church is clericalism. The clerical principle is a special kind of sin against the Holy Spirit, because it denies the Spirit's place in the Church, and replaces Him with a false system. The clerical principle states that all true ministry flows from the clergy, and any lay preaching is from the Devil. You can see how this evil is of the same character as what the Jewish leaders were guilty of in Matthew 12:30-31. As Israel spoke injuriously against the Spirit in their dispensation, so Christendom has denied the Spirit in our dispensation. The Church has effectively denied the presence and power of the Holy Spirit on earth. Collectively, the Jewish system came into judgment in 70 A.D., and one day the clerical system of Christendom will come into judgment as well, at the middle of Daniel's seventieth week. While we wouldn’t call the clerical principle "blasphemy" against the Holy Spirit, we can see that it is "sin" against the Spirit, and certainly the dispensational counterpart to what Israel was guilty of.1

If a believer committed this sin, could they lose their salvation? No. None of the elect will ever commit this sin. We know based on the doctrine of election that every person is either a "vessel of wrath" or a "vessel of mercy". If you are a vessel of mercy, you were chosen in an eternity past and He gave you the faith to believe when the time came. You were elected. A vessel of wrath is a person that was not elected, but when given the opportunity, hardened their heart (like Pharaoh, read Romans 9:14-24) and thus fitted themselves for judgment, despite God's long-suffering. Later, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, hence the phrase "it is impossible." Since none of the redeemed can or will ever commit this sin, there is no contradiction with 1 John 1:7.
A couple helpful realizations that help with this type of question:
  • There are two aspects to the atonement of Christ. Propitiation is the aspect in which Christ died to perfectly satisfy God. In this aspect He died for the whole WORLD. Substitution is the aspect in which Christ died for ME. In this aspect He only paid for the individual sins of those who would be SAVED.
  • Whenever we come to two verses that seem to contradict each other, we need to accept both as true, even if we can't comprehend how they can both coexist. For example; "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men" is 100% true and "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" is 100% true. What I have started to do is simply accept the Word of God, and then ask him to make it clear to me if it pleases Him. And He usually does.

Q&A: Casting Pearls before Swine

QWhat is the meaning of Matt. 7:6… Not throwing our pearls to swine? What are pearls? Who are the swine? What is an example of this forbidden behavior? Does this conflict with the exhortations to preach the gospel to the lost?
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ACasting our pearls before swine refers to bringing unholy individuals into the most sacred things of Christianity under the banner of grace. For example, bringing unbelievers into our service or worship (Phil. 3). Unsaved persons cannot worship, and God doesn’t want their service. Christendom is a vast system which unites believers and unbelievers in one common forum. But there must be a separation between believers and the world. If a person is still in their sins, they are standing on the wrong side of the cross. They are still crying “away with him, crucify him”. We cannot try to enjoy Christ with someone that is hateful or even indifferent toward our Savior. What they need is the gospel.

Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before the swine, lest they trample them with their feet, and turning round rend you. (Matthew 7:6)
Your pearls” might speak of what is most precious to Christians… worship, service, comfort, etc.1 “Dogs” are those who are unsaved (Phil. 3:2). “Swine” are morally degraded, usually false professors (2 Pet. 2:22). The “trampling of pearls” refers to the dishonor that is done to the Name of Christ when we share the precious things of Christ with unbelievers. “Turning round and rending” refers to the confusion and corruption that has invaded the kingdom of heaven because we have not maintained the distinction between holy and unholy. Here are a few examples of things to think about, although we do not want to make a law out of them:
  1. Joining together with false cults (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses) in outreach or prayer. Unity at the expense of holiness is nothing more than an unholy alliance.
  2. Comforting an unsaved co-worker that “all things work together for good”… that’s only true for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
  3. Speaking about God’s sovereignty to the lost. We need to stick to man’s responsibility. God’s sovereignty is a family secret!

An example of one who failed in this is Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:13), who displayed his precious things to the embassage from Babylon. The result of Hezekiah’s carelessness was that everything he showed the Babylonians was taken away.

What about the gospel? The exhortation about not casting our pearls does not prevent us from spreading the gospel to the lost. We were all at one time unholy like the “dogs” and “swine”, and would still be enemies of Christ if it weren’t for the grace of God (1 Cor. 6:11). Yet someone loved us enough to share the gospel with us. The gospel is different. The pearls are intended for the saints, but the gospel is for the lost. Hence we have commands to preach the gospel to the lost.