Questions and Answers from the Bible (Part C)
by Les Feldick
Part C - Complex Questions and Others(1c) Why did God require a blood sacrifice ?
(1c) Why did God require a blood sacrifice ?
Book 40 Lesson Three ē Part III
"For our conversation(citizenship) is (where?) in heavenÖ"
How did our citizenship get transplanted from the earthly domain to heaven? Colossians 1. God the Father has transplanted us from darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
Now that isnít so deep and yet very few people have this concept. Very few people understand that when they were saved, they were literally made a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, which will tie us then to when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom on earth. And weíll be part of that. So our citizenship is in Heaven. And lest you think itís a play on words, Paul, by inspiration, tells us exactly what heaven heís talking about. The abode of God. From whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so that is what God has done by virtue of our faith in the Gospel. He has opened our eyes, broken those chains of darkness and He has transplanted us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. Now letís look at verse 14 of Colossians 1 and the first thing youíre going to notice in these new translations is that the word "blood" isnít in there. And for whatever reason, Iím not going to make comment on it, but my good old King James still has it. And here it is.
"In whom (that is in the Son up there in verse 13) we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"
Now letís go all the way back to Hebrews and letís look at a verse that we havenít used for a long time. We certainly have in the past but itís been awhile. Hebrews chapter 9 and verse 22.
"And almost all things are by the law (back in the sacrificial economy) purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
Now I call that an absolute. You know, theyíre trying to tell us today that there are no absolutes. I beg to differ. There are absolutes and this is one of them. Without the shedding of blood there has never been any forgiveness of sin. You go right back to the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve had sinned and were expelled and whatís the first thing that God does to restore them? He kills the animals. It was a blood sacrifice.
Now itís amazing how that Satan counterfeits everything that is perfect in Godís economy and adulterates it in the process. Now if you know anything about paganism, if youíve ever had missionaries come home, especially years back, from some of these almost uncivilized areas, what were they constantly doing in their tribal rituals? Killing animals, or roosters or birds and sprinkling or spattering the blood all over. Why? That was Satanís counterfeit. And so almost every culture up through human history has had a constant bath of sacrificial blood. But that was the counterfeit. That was the adulteration.
The true system of blood sacrifice was what God instituted with Adam and Eve and then bought it up and perfected it with the Law and the Temple worship. And it all was centered on the animal sacrifices. You know all of that. The Passover Lamb and Iíve shown you from Scripture that when Israel would sin a particular sin, there was a particular sacrifice that they would have to bring. It could be a turtledove, a goat or whatever, but it was always a blood sacrifice. Because without the shedding of blood there has never been forgiveness. Now I know that today we donít hear anything anymore about the blood concept. But listen, itís the way the Sovereign God ordained it. That without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin. And of course, I feel that the reason for that is that back in Genesis chapter 9 it tells us that life is in the blood. And you cannot get new life without death happening first and death is signified by shed blood. And so you follow this all the way through Godís dealing with the whole human race leading up to His own supreme sacrifice, which had to be a shedding of blood. Thatís why He could have never been hung. He could have never died a death by hanging which was a typical capital punishment way of putting people to death. But it wouldnít have worked because then there wouldnít have been the shed blood. And it had to be a death where there would be that shedding of blood. It had to be! Because this is the way the Sovereign God ordained it and who are we to say that the shed blood is no longer of consequence. Well, anyone who does is in danger of Hellfire because without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Now letís see how Paul enlarges on it. Come back to Romans chapter 3 starting at verse 23.
"For all have sinned (every last single human being) and come short of the glory of God. 24. Being justified freely by his grace (that unmerited favor) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:"
Now you all know what redemption means. Itís the process of paying the price and gaining something back. Now verse 25
"Whom (Christ) God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his (what?) blood,Ö"
You canít take that out. We have to maintain that it was His shed blood which was in accordance with His whole divine plan for the ages beginning with Adam and Eveís sin just outside the garden all the way up through the Old Testament economy of Law and temple worship, all bringing us up to the supreme sacrifice of all time, the death of Christ Himself. And thatís when sacrificing stopped biblically. There was no more need for sacrifice once Christ died. Now the pagans kept it on. But biblically there was no more need for sacrifice.
But never forget that without the shedding of blood there is no remission.
Book 33 LESSON ONE * PART II
"And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. (now this is God speaking) 11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: (this is why the Blood had to be sacrificed for the remission of sin. It was death for life.) 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."
Now I'm going to make a point. What had to happen to the blood in the Old Testament sacrifices, as well as Christ's Blood for the atonement of sin? It had to be applied. It had to be sprinkled on the altar, it had to be sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant's mercy seat, and Christ also had to present His Blood remember where? The Holy of Holies in heaven.
Book 4 LESSON TWO * PART II
"For it is evident that our Lord (The Lord Jesus) sprang out of Juda (not out of the tribe of Levi. He was not eligible to be a priest out the order of Aaron, having come out of the tribe of Judah); of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
All the way from start to finish we have the connection of the High Priest of the Gentile and The Most High God. The Lord Jesus is not only The Most High, the possessor of Heaven and earth, but He is also the High Priest of the Gentile God so that you and I can rest assured that we have a High Priest interceding for us at the very Throne Room of Heaven itself. Not a high priest after the order of Aaron, but a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
On the day of atonement in Leviticus 21, the high priest once a year would take the blood of a sacrificed animal, make his way through the front part of the tabernacle, go in behind the veil, and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat, which was the very presence of God under the Shekinah Glory. Israel's sins were then covered for that next year. Now that was the role of the high priest on behalf of Israel. Our High Priest had to do the same thing. Go to John's Gospel, Chapter 20. We cannot get a comprehension of Christ's role as our High Priest unless we can understand what He has done to fulfill that role. It is Resurrection Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, saw it was empty, and ran back and told the disciples, who couldn't believe. Then Peter and John came running. I believe that although verse 9 tells us so much, most people are not enlightened on this. As Peter and John saw all the evidence there at the empty tomb, verses 8 and 9 tell us:
"Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they (the Twelve, and Peter and John in particular) knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
They had no idea He was going to rise from the dead until they saw proof of it; however, that isn't the point I want to make. Come down to the account of where Mary saw the tomb was empty. And she said, "Oh, where have they put my Lord?" As she turned, there stood The Lord Jesus, only she didn't know Him.
"And they (the two angels) say unto her, `Woman, why weepest thou?' She saith unto them, `Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.'"
"Jesus saith unto her, `Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?' She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, `Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus saith unto her, `Mary.' She turned herself, and saith unto him, `Rabboni;' which is to say, Master."
What do you think Mary wanted to do? Embrace Him! He was alive! But what does He do? He holds her at bay and says:
"Jesus saith unto her, `Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.'" Now back to Hebrews, if you will. Then I think we can put all this together.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come (not after the order of Aaron, remember, but after the order of Melchizedek, the priest of the Gentile name of God), by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (where is it? - in Heaven);"
Remember what you just read in John; that Jesus, on that Resurrection morning, said to Mary Magdalene, "Don't touch me until I have ascended to the Father." This is on Resurrection morning. We're not talking about the ascension of Acts. This is in John's Gospel on the Resurrection morning. Why did He have to ascend?
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in (to the very throne room of Heaven) once into the holy place (the very presence of God, and as He presented His Blood...), having obtained eternal redemption for us
What role was He fulfilling? - High Priest! Not the high priest of Israel, but the High Priest of all. We don't have to leave the Jew out insofar as His High Priesthood is concerned because now, as a result of the Cross and the power of His Resurrection, He is the High Priest of all. That, of course, is what Melchizedek represented. Please go back with me to Romans, Chapter 3. I am always stressing that Paul is the one who has received the final part of our progressive revelation, except the Book of Revelation. But Paul brings everything to a head by asking the question:
"Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:"
See, nobody is left out. As a result of the work of the Cross, as a result of the work of His presenting His own blood in the very Throne Room of Heaven as our High Priest, everything has been satisfied. Everything is done that had to be done.
(2c) How was Lord Jesus Christ born without sin ?
Book 2 LESSON TWO PART I
`And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.'"
In a previous lesson we pointed out that this verse is foretelling that long-running enmity between the powers of Satan and the powers of God, especially the Son of God Who would be coming on the scene as the Redeemer.
Turn now to Galatians 3:16. As we've said before, we must always qualify everything with Scripture, studying and comparing Scripture with Scripture to get the whole, correct picture. The "Seed of the Woman" is unique in Genesis 3:15, but we have to follow this thread all the way through Scripture, because the prophecy given in Genesis was looking forward to the coming of THE REDEEMER. Galatians 3:16, then helps us to qualify just Who this "Seed of the Woman" is.
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, `And to seeds,' as of many; but as of one, `And to thy seed,' which is Christ."
So we can always scripturally refer to the Lord Jesus as the "Seed of the Woman."
Remember, as we've gone through our study from Genesis 1:26, when Adam and Eve were created through the time when they ate of the forbidden fruit, we have tried to emphasize the fact that first we must understand that Adam, as he was first created, actually contained the woman we now know as Eve. When Eve was later created (Genesis 2:21-22), the Bible makes it clear that she came out of Adam, because Adam had to be the "Federal Head" of the human race, and everybody, including Eve, would now come from that line of Adam. That's why Scripture tells us so plainly that the human race didn't come under sin by virtue of Eve, even though she had eaten first, but sin came upon the whole human race by way of Adam.
We have to understand that Eve was in Adam because even though God did not put the curse on Eve for having eaten herself of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, yet she inherited that sin nature through Adam just like every other human being who's ever lived. All this should begin to tell us something!
For some reason or other, God had to keep the fault (or whatever you want to call it), that fell upon mankind through the curse from Eve. He had to somehow insulate her from it so that she would simply inherit her sin nature through Adam. She became a fallen creature, not from her own eating of the forbidden fruit which she did in ignorance, but rather because she was "in Adam." And even though she became a fallen creature and was under the anathema of sin just as much as Adam or anyone else, yet God did something with the long range view in mind, in order to provide "The Redeemer," because this Redeemer had to come through the woman and at the same time be free of the sin nature!
If you really stop and consider, most Christian people believe and ascribe to the virgin birth of Christ, and isn't it amazing that the Christ could be born of a woman who, out of the line of Adam, was a sinner like everyone else (Mary was not sinless!); that God could bring to pass the birth of the Christ Child from a normal female human being, yet her Offspring could be sinless and not pick up anything of the human element of the sin nature?
Why? This may get a little deep now, and unfortunately the average Christian never even considers this. However, we are teaching the very basics here and, consequently, some of the things just aren't too easy to understand. God expects us to study and grow and go into the deep things, as Paul calls them - "the meat of the Word."
Because Eve was somehow so insulated from propagating the sin nature, all of the females of the species have somehow still maintained that insulation from the curse that came by way of Adam.
To explain, the "seed of the woman" is called in medical terms "the ovum." When the female gets ready for reproduction, there is building within her all these potential "ovum" or "seeds." But those "ovum" will never become anything more than individual cells unless or until they are impregnated from an outside source - the father.
Physiologists say that in order for the young mother to become pregnant, one of the ovum becomes separated from the others and becomes impregnated; the first change is that the cells within the fertilized ovum begin to divide and multiply rapidly until they reach a count of 32 or sometimes 64; then suddenly, in the development of that little embryo that process of cell division and multiplication stops and the body cells begin to develop - the extremities: fingers, toes, feet, hands, etc. - to form the human body. Sometime further down the line, the original reproductive cells find their way into the fetus as a whole.
Remember back in studying Eve's creation, we pointed out that she was taken not just from Adam's rib, but from the "side chamber" of Adam, and it was probably the reproductive portion of Adam that is referred to as the "germ plasm" from which Eve was formed? She had to be insulated from any part of the curse of the sin nature so that these reproductive cells, beginning with and coming all the way down to Mary, and probably on down to us today, do not carry the curse from one generation to the next except through the father. It's only the father that precipitates what we call the circulatory system or the blood system.
This doesn't come easily to our understanding and you really must give this considerably thought. If the female of the species has been insulated from the effects of the curse in the area of reproduction, she cannot pass down from her generation to the next the curse of sin. That has to come through the father!
Physiologically speaking again, there is none of the mother's blood that ever becomes part and parcel of that little baby. The blood comes from the father. Always remember that!
Now, the line of the curse comes through the blood - through the father. So every human being, as we have been stressing through these early lessons in Genesis, is a born sinner by virtue of the fact that he has inherited it through his father, not through his mother, although she is just as much a sinner as the father is.
Why has all this happened? Why did God see fit to insulate the "seed of the woman" from the curse? He was looking down through the eons of time to the coming of "The Redeemer," because Christ had to be born of a woman, but yet He had to be sinless. Now, since the "ovum" or reproductive cells of the woman do not carry the curse, and God was the one who impregnated Mary so that she could become the mother of the Lord Jesus without benefit of a human father, Jesus could be born without that sin nature and that's why we call His, the "virgin birth."
The Lord Jesus could thus be born of a woman without the effects of the curse that came from the human father. He could be sinless, divine; His blood system did not originate with the human element, it originated with God. And yet since He was born of the woman, He was human; He had the same appetites that we have; He ate; He slept like we do, and yet was without sin!
(3c) Can a TRUE Christian fall from grace ?
Book 23 LESSON THREE * PART IV
We just want to teach The Word, and help people see what The Book says, and, just as important, what it doesn't say. Understanding The Book is really not that hard, and the best way to study is to compare Scripture with Scripture. Peter says:
II Peter 1:20
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."
That means that you cannot build a doctrine on one verse of Scripture here and there, because then you can build anything. But it's our prerogative to use all the Scriptures from Genesis through Revelation, and see that they fit. Seeming contradictions may arise, but when you study you find they're not contradictory at all. Usually it's because in one instance God is dealing with the Nation of Israel, and in another what may seem contradictory is His dealing with the Church Age. And there is a vast difference.
Book 23 LESSON THREE * PART II
Alright, now let's come on down to verse 33. Since Christ died, and God let Him, God permitted it to happen. He directed that it had to happen in order to purchase our Salvation. There would have never been a person saved, not even in the Old Testament economy, without the work of the Cross. It had to be to satisfy a Holy and Righteous God. Now, let's read:
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Now, what does that word `elect' mean? Chosen. When you elect someone you designate them to be whatever you intend them to be, and the word `election' in the Greek is exactly that. It is an act of choosing, and that is what God has done with everyone of His believers. Now, I think I'll finish the chapter, and then I want to take you back to some of the statements that Jesus made Himself during His earthly ministry: that He has chosen us, and that no man comes to God on his own prerogative. Sometimes we like to think, "Well, I can just decide to go with God anytime I feel like it." Oh no you can't because you have to be back again in that chosen aspect, but on the other hand we have the Scriptures, "Whosoever will." So reading that verse again:
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Not our neighbor, boss, husband or wife. We don't have to give an account to any of them. It's God, the Triune God, the Creator God, the sustaining God, He's the One Who determines who we are and what we are in the realm of the Spirit. Now, verse 34, so if He is the One Who has chosen us, if He is the One Who has forgiven us, if He is the One Who has taken us unto Himself, then:
"Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again,..."
Now, do you see how Paul is constantly hammering that everything revolves around that finished work of the Cross? The fact that Christ died, His divine Blood had to be shed, because always remember:
"...and without shedding of blood is no remission."
So without the shedding of Blood there is no remission. You can't bypass the Blood, it had to happen. So He's the One Who died, and rose from the dead, and He's the One Who is at the right hand of God interceding for us. He's the One Who is watching over us, and He is the one who promised, "If God is for you, who can be against you?" And never lose sight of that, but don't ever interpret that to mean that nothing bad can ever happen to a believer. Don't ever get the idea that the things of this world can't attack the believer. Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, and he does that often, and he can confuse the issue, but we have these promises, if we'll rest on them, that God is still in total control. God's Sovereign!
Now we're coming into a series of verses that will probably disturb one group of people of various denominations, and that is that group of people who feel that you can not be assured of your Salvation. They think that you have to hope you make it, you have to work like the dickens to hang on, and you have to be sure that you don't ever sin in such a way that you will lose your Salvation, and end up in Hell instead of God's Heaven. These verses are just going to fly in the face of that kind of thinking. I can't help it, because all I'm going to show you is what The Book says. Now, verse 35:
"Who shall separate us (and that means just exactly what it say) from the love of Christ? shall tribulation,..."
That word tribulation is used something like 29 times in the New Testament, and maybe with one exception that word is associated with the activity surrounding the believer. You go back into the Book of Revelation, in fact, let's turn to that book right now. Someday we're going to teach this part of Revelation - the letters to the seven churches in the opening chapters. Revelation Chapter2 verse 9. This is a letter to the church in Smyrna (verse 8) and Smyrna actually means to smell "just like myrrh," and myrrh does not exude its fragrance until it's crushed. This is exactly what the church at Smyrna was indicating, that the more persecution crushed those believers, the more they exuded their testimony. And you see that's why Satan had to give up persecuting the early Church because he couldn't get ahead of it. The more he persecuted the more it thrived, so he took the opposite attack, and that was to join them, and then Christianity began to slide. Let's read:
"I know thy works, and tribulation (God knew about their tribulation, and the Church at Smyrna was going through horrible pressure), and poverty, (but thou art rich)..."
They were poor in material things because the persecution was taking them away from their income. It probably took them away from their job situation. It took all their wealth away if they had any. That was part of the persecution, but spiritually they were what? Rich! The Church today is just the opposite of that day, and that's what the letter to the Church at Laodicea was all about. Now, reading on:
"I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews (believers), and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (they were impostors). Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer (did believer's suffer? You bet they did): behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison (for their faith), that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days (I think that ten days refers to ten distinct periods of time during the Roman Empire when the Church came under horrible pressure, but these believers didn't give up); be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
Now, back to Romans again. So we're going to suffer tribulations, and as I mentioned before, it's only been in the last couple hundred years that western civilization, at least, has been able to guarantee the rights of the individual, and the freedom of worship, and so forth. But for the most part this has been unheard of. We're living in an extremely different time than most Christians had to live in, because we do have a government, that so far at least, guarantees our rights to assembly, and to religion. Verse 35 continuing:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness (Paul went through times of nakedness, and cold, he was thirsty, and hungry, and how did Paul die? Beheaded by the sword), or peril, or sword?"
And there is nothing said that we will be spared the sword, but none of this will separate us from our Lord. Can the Devil bring in enough persecution to force a believer out of his place in the Body of Christ? Never! God has guaranteed that because of the work of the Cross we are secure. Not because of what we have done, not because of what we merit, but only because of what He has done, and let's never lose sight of that. We never maintain our assurance of Salvation and security because of who we are or what we are, or what we have done. That is never part of the picture. Everything that keeps us secure is that finished work of the Christ. Verse 36:
"As it is written, `For thy sake (the sake of the Christ of the Cross) we are killed all the day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'"
I read an account not too long ago about someone years back when Chicago was still the capital of the meat packing business. They would slaughter the cattle, sheep, and hogs all within one huge complex. A visitor was being taken on a tour and he just couldn't help but notice that as he went from the hog killing area, with all of the squealing and all the commotion that goes on with hogs, to the sheep killing area, what happened.
Utter silence, and I've witnessed that myself. I'll never forget that when they take sheep to the slaughter they have a goat. And that goat leads those sheep up to the place where they are to be killed, and then the goat slips out a side door. And then he goes back and gets another bunch. It's simply amazing, but those sheep go to their slaughter in utter silence.
And this is the analogy that Paul draws of the believer. We may someday just come to the place where we, too, will go like sheep to the slaughter. Are we going to scream and squeal like a bunch of pigs? No, because that's not the way God works. Do you remember what Isaiah said about the Lamb of God?
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Why? Because there was no need for Him to scream and argue, and so it has been with Christians down through the ages. Take a lot of the hunks and macho people of today, most of them think Christianity is for women and children. But they have it all wrong, because back in the days when persecution was running rampant it took ten times more man to stand up for the slaughter, to be burned at the stake, and to be put on the rack. You all know what the rack was, that was when their bones were all broken without killing them. That's when it takes a real man, and I bet most of those so called machos could never hold a candle to those saints. But Paul says this is all part and parcel of what God has imparted to us, the promise that even though we may have to go through these things, and many have, it will never separate us from the love of Christ.
And remember this life, even if somehow we could live to be 100, what is that compared to eternity? Eternity, never ending forever and ever and ever, and yet the human race will not consider that. All they look at is, what can I enjoy in the here and now? But you see this Book looks at everything in the light of eternity, and so this is why we have to take this blessed assurance that regardless of what may happen, nothing can separate us from our spending eternity with our Creator God. Well, let's move on to verse 37.
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Were those sheep, being led quietly to their death, conquerors? That's the analogy. We're led like sheep to the slaughter, but this verse says, "...yet we're conquerors." That's fantastic isn't it? So we don't have to mind being meek, and quiet, and coming under persecution, and doing without squealing like a hog. Because in the end we're still going to be more than conquerors, How? Through the One that loved us, that's where it is. You and I in the energy of the flesh can do nothing, we are nothing. Now verse 38 Paul says:
"For I am persuaded..."
What does it mean to be persuaded? Totally convinced. I think it was King Agrippa back in Acts Chapter 26 where Paul had been witnessing to him and what did old King Agrippa say to Paul?
"Then Agrippa said unto Paul, `Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.'"
But I don't believe that King Agrippa ever believed the Gospel and became a Christian, and do you know why? Because Agrippa could never be convinced that what Paul was telling him was true. And that's where a lot of people are today: they hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4), they hear this Book taught, but they can't be convinced. They simply can't believe it. And I've had people approach me and say, "Well, what have you got?" And I'll tell them, but most will come back with, "But I can't believe that. I can't believe that's all it takes."
I'll never forget a young man in my class at Wilburton, OK. I think he's still receiving our tapes, and if so, I hope he hears this. He was one of these kids who from the time he was 5 or 6 years-old had no home life, no parents, he just literally made it on his own. He came up after class one night, and said, "Les, do you mean to tell me that I can have all of this free for nothing?" I told him, "Yes." He said, "I can't believe that." And then he told me of how he had to scratch and fight for every little bit of food that he had as a kid growing up. He said, "I just can't believe that." And I told him, "I'm sorry, but until you can believe it you can't have it." And so the young man left. But I'm hoping that sometime in the interim he will still come to his senses and see that, yes, all of this is ours for the taking, if we will only believe it. Now, continuing on with verse 38:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,"
Now, why do you suppose that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to start with death instead of life like we would normally put it? Stop and think for a moment, what's he driving at? Death is the easy way out. That's why we have so many suicides, they think that's their easiest way out. They can't cope with their problems, they can't cope with their circumstances, so they take their life, and that ends it as far as this life is concerned. But what about life? Oh, we're living in a world that's filled with heartaches and turmoils. A life that's lived with all kinds of oppositions to the home and family. Hey, life is difficult. Life is not easy. In fact, I was reading a book someone sent me a while back, and I almost had to quit reading it because all the writer was pointing out was all these things that make life difficult. True, but it wasn't necessarily what I wanted to be thinking about, so you see death is easy by comparison. But Paul tells us that even all the difficulties of life can't separate us from the love of God. Now, as we come to close of this lesson I wish I had more time for the next few words in verse 38: that is principalities and powers, nor things present, or things to come.
The word `principalities' here in the Greek is `Arche.' It deals with people who are in a high position. The word `power' is from the Greek word `Dunamis' from which we get `Dynamo,' and it means energy. Paul is delineating here that principalities, the position, and the energy that comes from that position are going to do everything that they can to take us away from the love of Christ. But they can't do it. I wish I had time to take you to Ephesians in Chapter 6 to enlighten you even more. There the word `powers' is used a little differently than in Romans. There it's not speaking of energy, but again, power as Jesus gave to the Twelve when they went out to perform the miracles. But, nevertheless, the powers that be in the realm of Satan are positioned and they are loaded with energy that seemingly never runs out.
LESSON THREE * PART III
IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US?
Let's get back to Romans Chapter 8. I'd like to go back to those last 6 or 7 verses and pick out some things I neglected to bring out in the last lesson. But before I do I would like to say that I hope you're studying the Word with us, and learning what The Book says and what The Book doesn't say. The Scriptures are not just some gobbledy-gook, but rather written by the hand of God so that anybody can understand it. You don't have to be highly educated, or have a great theological education to comprehend the Scriptures. Now, of course, that's what precipitated the Dark Ages, when the church had gotten so powerful that they had pulled the Scriptures away from the common man and brought it into the monasteries because they felt only the monks and educated could discern the Word of God, but that's not what God intends. He wants all of us to become students, to learn how to study this Book. That's what Paul meant when he wrote to Timothy that we are to:
II Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
I want to come back and cover some of these verses that we looked at in the last lesson. And someone had a question about verse 31 so let's turn to that verse now. Here is a verse that is so paramount to our Christian experience as a child of God, that we have to understand that those of us who have been called, we've been elected, we've been justified, we've been glorified, and that being the case:
"What shall we then say to these things (what's Paul talking about? That we've been justified, glorified, forgiven, and all these things that Paul alone teaches. How can we say that? Well, we can come to the conclusion if that's all true, then)? If God be for us, who can be against us?" And that's where God wants us to rest, there is no one that can condemn us because of verse 32.
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,..."
And as we saw in the Book of Philippians The Lord Jesus Himself was obedient unto that kind of a death. Just like Isaac of old. A lot of those things back in the Old Testament were just a preview of what took place in the New. As Abraham laid Isaac upon the altar, is there anything in Scripture that indicates that Isaac struggled? Did Isaac fight back? But in complete obedience he let Abraham, his father, lay him upon that altar. Well, that was just a preview of how God the Son would react to the same situation, that He gave Himself up as we see in Philippians:
"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Romans 8:33:
"Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?..."
I stressed a little bit in the last half hour that these verses just absolutely hammer home the idea that once God has put the finger on us, has elected us, and we have responded and we have entered into His tremendous Salvation, then who in the world can touch that? Nobody can touch it, because it's something that God has done, and don't let anyone ever tell you, "How can you be so conceited as to tell me that you know that you'll go to Heaven when you die, when no one can know." When someone talks like that, they themselves are totally unaware of true saving faith. Because if you have enough faith to believe the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4), if your faith is sufficient to bring you into that Salvation, then you should have enough faith to take God at His Word, and the rest of it. And that is that you're His. No one can take us out of His hand, and we're going to see that in just a little bit. Verse 33 again.
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth."
Would God elect someone who somewhere down the road would chose to reject Him? I can't see it happening, and the reason I'm using that example is I had a fellow tell me that one time. I said, "Look, the Scripture says that God will never cast us out." He said, "Oh, I know that, but I could cast myself out." I said how? He replied, "By committing some horrible sin." I said, "Look, you can't touch yourself so far as being in that position in the Body of Christ any more than someone else can. We are totally, and I can't emphasize this enough; we are totally under the power of the Sovereign God, and nobody can supersede his power." These closing verses of Romans 8 are like the crescendo of a great orchestra. A crescendo is when that sound just builds and builds, and it's got your attention. It's been building throughout these first eight chapters of Romans, but now here comes this crescendo. I think Paul, if we could have heard him in person, would have just shouted it. "Look, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ!" We see this in verse 35:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (we covered that in the last lesson. Verse 36)? ....we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Oh, not of what we have, not through any ability that I or you have, but what makes us conquerors? Christ Jesus. He became everything. What does the Book of Colossians say?
"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
And that is where we live and move, and there is nothing in us that can merit any favor with God, it is all of His Grace. And remember that Grace could never have happened if it had not been for mercy. We no longer have to cry for mercy because God poured out His mercy on Christ there on the Cross. His mercy has already been poured out. Since His mercy has been poured out, now He can give Grace. "Unmerited favor." We don't deserve any of this. Now, let's look again at verse 38:
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,"
Go to Ephesians Chapter 6. I felt we had to do this part over since we didn't have time to cover it in the last lesson. Paul writes:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Not down in the gutter, not on skid row, but in high places. Now, that should wake us up. We're up against something that is beyond the normal. It's up here with tremendous power, and position. These powers are in high positions and let's compare the same Greek word `powers' back in Matthew Chapter 10 so we get an idea of what Paul is really driving at when he says, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and against powers,"
"And when he (The Lord Jesus in His earthly ministry) had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power..."
Now, that word `power' is the same word in the Greek that we found back in Ephesians, and it was authority. So these principalities and powers have authority, and don't you ever doubt it. Don't you ever forget that Satan is powerful. My, he can transform himself into an angel of light. He is the one, according to II Corinthians 4:3-4, that prevents the lost from comprehending the Gospel. So this word is designated `authority.' Another one is in Acts Chapter 26, and we see that same kind of a meaning. And this Scripture is going to be in regards to Paul, and it's the same Greek word again.
"I verily thought with myself (back in his pre-Salvation experience), that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests;"
What does that mean? Paul was put in position to do what he was doing. Authority. Now, bring that back to what we saw in Ephesians:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,..."
And they have authority. And that authority is Satan, and he is doing everything that he can, not only to frustrate the life of you and I as believers, but also to keep lost humanity in darkness. And he will have that power until God breaks that power. Here again is why we have to come back to the very fact that God is the One Who opens our heart, God is the One through the working of the Holy Spirit Who gives us an understanding. Now, return to Romans 8 for a little bit, and then we may look at a couple of verses in John.
"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature (all of creation, there is nothing that has ever been created whether it's on the demonic side or on the righteous angelic side), shall be able to separate us (or take us) from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Someone might say, "Well, that's Paul, and I don't have time for his teachings." Well, let's go back and see what Jesus Himself says. Let's turn to John's Gospel Chapter 6. And here Jesus is speaking:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;..."
Who is making the first move? God is. Don't you ever believe anyone when they say, "Oh, seek this and that, and after God." because it's impossible. You and I can't seek God, because it not in us; no unbeliever is going to go running after God, it's not in him. If he suddenly has an appetite for the things of God, then God put it there first. And it's the same as Jesus is saying here:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me (as a result of God moving him) I will in no wise cast out."
Now, Jesus said it in His earthly ministry that anybody that God has chosen, that God has elected, that God has sent to Him would in no wise ever be cast out. And that means what it says. Now, let's look at John Chapter 10. Ordinarily I don't like to raise my voice, but when I find out that there are people who totally don't understand this, and think I'm way out in left field, then that's why I have to show you what The Book says: It isn't what I think.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man (and man has been added by the translators so I prefer to leave it out. Neither shall any) pluck them out of my hand."
Now, compare that word any with what Paul has said in Romans Chapter 8, and what do you also include? The whole sphere of creation. Not just man, but neither the angelic powers, the Satanic powers, nothing can pluck them out of His hand. Now, can you believe that? Well, if you can believe that God in Christ died, and rose again for your Salvation, then you should be able to have enough faith to believe these things. You're His, and no one can take you away from Him. Now, you see the first thing I'll be accused of is, "Well, you're going to tell people that they can do what ever they want to do just because they will never be lost?" Never have I said that. Grace is not license! Don't ever get the idea that the Scripture teaches that since we're safe, that since we're secure we are free to do what we want.
So we believers live in constant awareness that we don't want to fall, or commit a sin. But we also have enough common sense to know that we could. I would hope that I would never fall into any great sin. We're all guilty of these mundane sins of everyday living, and thoughts.
But so far as falling into a great sin such as David did. Did David fall into sin? Was David a believer? Yes. Did David lose his Salvation? No. But oh, what did David know how to do? Beg for forgiveness, and of course he was back before the Age of Grace. But if you want to see a man, David to me was a "man's man." David was as manly as any person that ever lived. Yet as a man's man, we read in the psalms where he poured out his heart in sweat drops begging for forgiveness after he was convicted of his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, and of murdering her husband Uriah. He was a true child of God, otherwise it would have never bothered him. You can go all through Scripture and all the great people failed miserably.
Abraham for example, with his beautiful wife Sara, goes down into Egypt and what happens? "Sara, as beautiful as you are, they're going want you in their harem. There's nothing that I can do to stop it unless they kill me, so for goodness sake don't tell them that you're my wife, but rather my sister." That was sin. Did God kick Abraham out? No! Abraham had to come to the place of recognizing his sin as a believer. Look at Peter in the New Testament. In fact, I had a question from a listener the other day, "What did Jesus mean when He said to Peter there in the Book of Luke?"
"And the Lord said, `Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:'"
What did Jesus know that was just down the road in a matter of hours? Peters denial. And here, great big Peter, to probably a teenage girl, cursed and swore that he didn't know Jesus. He didn't have a thing to do with Him, and what happened? The cock crowed, and what happened to Peter? He wept bitterly. Why? He was convicted of his sin. Did that act throw Peter out? No! But he was reconciled immediately when he confessed his sin, and so it is with a believer in Paul's doctrines of Grace. Paul never gives us license to sin. John's little epistle at the back of your Bible tells:
I John 2:1
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin (we're going to, and if we sin), we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"
And then back in the Book of Revelation Chapter 12. My, don't ever think for a minute that believers aren't subjected to sin. I've never seen a true believer that just makes up his mind that he's going to go out and get drunk, or commit adultery, or cheat someone, but it can happen. But a believer has to be constantly on guard.
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, `Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren (believers) is cast down (Satan), which accused them (believers) before our God day and night.'"
Now, if it's impossible for believers to sin, then Satan wouldn't have had anything to accuse them of, but he did, and he does, and he will until we're in The Lord's presence. Because as long as we're in this body of flesh we are going to be prone to fall. I like this simple analogy: most, if not all of you, have raised children, and when they were little and learning how to walk, did they just start walking? No, they fell, and what did a good mom or dad do? Kick them in the rear, and say, "What's the matter with you?" No. We picked them up, and lovingly set them on their feet, and got them started again.
Book 27 LESSON ONE * PART III
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
You see we're all human. Every human being is just as prone to fall into sin as the next one, but hopefully if we're spiritually taught, and have kept these things, this won't happen. But it can happen to anybody. John is delineating that there were some sins that would not cause God to take them out of their physical life. But some sins He will, and I've seen it happen, and I'm sure you have where a believer will refuse to come away from his sinful lifestyle. You can deal with them, and deal with them, and all of a sudden, "Bingo." Just a sudden heart attack, or sudden car accident, and they're gone. Well God takes them home lest they keep on bringing reproach to His Name. And that's exactly what John is dealing with, and so he says:
I John 5:b
"...There is a sin unto death: (a believer can come to that place where God will take his life. Now then look at the very last part of that verse) I do not say that he shall pray for it."
In other words no believer or Church Body ever has the right to pray for the death of an erring believer, because that is never permissible, that's in God's hand. Now let's look at verse 17.
I John 5:17
"All unrighteousness is sin: (whether that sin be a little one or a great one) and there is a sin not unto death."
Now what's implied here in verse 17? That some sins are gross enough that it will cause God to take that believer out ahead of time. Now let's come back to I Corinthians Chapter 5, and here's where we have it. This man is evidently committing a sin unto death if he does not repent of it, and turn around. If he's going to continue on living with his step-mother in a marital relationship, then God's going to take him out, and that's all there is to it. Now verse 5.
I Corinthians 5:5,6
"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit (soul) may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
Book 30 LESSON TWO * PART II
II Corinthians 1:21,22
"Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest (or the down payment) of the Spirit in our hearts."
Now there is another verse that is a perfect parallel with that and for that we have to go to the Book of Ephesians Chapter 1. Some of these days we'll be teaching this tremendous letter verse by verse. It's dealing with our position in the Body of Christ as believers.
"In whom (in Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, (and the word of truth is) the gospel of your salvation: (I Corinthians 15:11-4) in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." Now that is part and parcel again of our salvation experience. We have been sealed, we have been marked by the Person of the Holy Spirit Himself. Now verse 14.
"Which is the earnest (and that means just exactly like we use the term today. He is the down payment. A sufficient down payment to make sure that the transaction is completed.) of our inheritance (which we will have by being joint-heirs with Christ, and that's going to hold it) until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."
Book 41 LESSON TWO * PART IV
"And you, being dead in your sins (absolutely, we were as under the control of the old nature, our spirit was completely out of fellowship with God and so thatís what Paul says we were in the world. We were dead in sin) and the uncircumcision of your flesh (by virtue of being Gentiles) but hath he (God) quickened (has regenerated our spirit. He has crucified old Adam and has given us a new nature. A divine nature) together with him, having (already) forgiven you all trespasses."
Now letís look at Colossians 3:13. And again, Paul repeats this twice in two chapters to drive it home. And oh, most of Christendom has a hard time swallowing this, I know they do. But here it is again.
"Forbearing one another, (remember, heís writing to believers congregated in an assembly) and forgiving one another, if any may have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
Now look at that verse very carefully. Is there any demand in that verse that you forgive your enemy before you can be saved? NO! Thatís already done by the Grace of God. Youíre forgiven. But now since you and I are forgiven, what should we be ready to do? Forgive whoever we have ought against, whether itís in the Church or neighborhood or whatever. There is nothing stipulated in Paulís Gospel, nor his writings that first we have to forgive everybody before we can be forgiven like the Lord Jesus said during His earthly ministry under Law. For example, The Lordís Prayer isnít appropriate for us today. The Lordís Prayer was under Law. It was to Israel. And it says "forgive us our trespasses (when?) as we forgive those who trespass against us." Now thatís Law. And absolutely a Jew could not be forgiven until he went and forgave his neighbor. But that doesnít hold true today. Weíre forgiven by the Grace of God. And if weíre forgiven, then why in the world canít we forgive our neighbor? Thatís the teaching. So twice in two chapters he says we have been forgiven of all our trespasses and all our sins. Now letís go back to Ephesians 2:1.
"And you (writing to these Ephesian believers) hath he (Christ) quickened (made alive. Same concept. As soon as we believe the Gospel, God imparted to us that new divine nature. He gave us the regeneration of the spirit. Itís divine, eternal life that we are now partakers of) who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world (everyone did) according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. 3. Among whom also we all (he included himself) had our conversation (manner of living) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (doing what comes naturally like everybody else.) 4. But (the flip side) God (not me, not I, but God) who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. 5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved:) 6. Hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (see our position now as believers?) Now verse 8.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; (plus how much? NOTHING! Thereís nothing else listed here. Itís by grace through faith) and that not of yourselves; it is the (what?) gift of God:" How much work do you do for a gift? NONE! But, people are having all this stuff laid on them. There is nothing in here that says youíve got to do such and such except believe that Christ has already done it. Itís finished! And we canít add to it.
(4c) What really happened during Noah's flood ?
Book 3 LESSON ONE * PART III
NOAH, "SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER"
Turning to Genesis 7. We're ready to take a good look at Noah's flood, and I'm going to explode a lot of myths. There is a common picture that comes to mind when we talk about Noah's ark. We immediately get the picture of a little rowboat type thing with a little shed in the middle and a giraffe standing on deck looking over the edge. That goes back to our Sunday School materials when we were kids, and shows you how impressionable young minds are. The ark was not just a little row boat. Instead, as we pointed out a few weeks ago, the ark was an enclosed rectangular box. It was built, not to sail across the sea - it wasn't going anywhere in particular - but it was built to withstand the awful rigors of the flood.
The secret of this is in Gen. 7:11. The only thing that probably 99% of the people who have read of this flood have considered was the 40 days and nights of rain. Years ago, as I was teaching this, I had several pastors in my class. After class, one came up and said, "Les, you just shot out of the saddle one of my best sermons!" I replied, "I'll bet I know how you preached it. You said, `it rained, and the water got ankle deep, and somebody said, `Hey, old Noah was right,' and they came knocking on the door. When it got knee deep, a few more woke up; when it got up to their waists, a few more.'" He admitted he always taught it that way. It made a great sermon but it wasn't Biblical! They had no time to look for cover. It was instantaneous, absolute mayhem and cataclysmic destruction.
"And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."
The seven days referred to in verse 10 are those "seven days of grace" we mentioned in a previous lesson. After Noah, his family and the animals were all on the ark, the door was left open and the gangplank down and anyone who wished, still could have come in, but no one did. Then, God shut the door. "In the second month" - When months are mentioned in Scripture, April is considered the first month of the year, so this would have been the month of May. Ö "On the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened." Here is the secret. On one day everything hit and hit hard. It didn't just begin to rain with water rising slowly (previously, in Genesis 1:6,7, we noted that after the earth was flooded during a previous judgment, not on man, but probably on an angelic kingdom. God was preparing it for human habitation).
"And God said, `Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so."
I'm of the conviction that at that point in His restoration, God raised half of the water that had been flooding the planet and placed it in a huge vapor belt somewhere out in space; that laid the foundation for the amazing spring-like weather that enveloped the planet from one end to the other. The earth had a constant spring-like climate, and because it was constant, there was no "weather;" no storm clouds; and the Bible can accurately say it never rained, but that God watered the things that needed water from beneath.
In Genesis 7, as Noah was building the ark and started talking of a great rain to come, the people probably couldn't understand what he was talking about. Even though as we have discussed, the technology of that day was fantastic, probably something equivalent to what we have today or more, yet they couldn't comprehend water coming down from above because they'd never experienced rain. All of a sudden it began to rain all over the planet, and that was the first time the people probably began to give credence to what Noah had said. But before they had time to react to that thought all the fountains of the great deep were broken up. Analyze that for a moment. What do we usually think of when "the deep" explodes out above the surface? We call it a volcano. So if you can picture it in your mind, (and I'm going to get you to expand your imagination here as far as I can), all around this planet there were volcanic eruptions, and along with these eruptions there were gigantic earthquakes. This whole planet went into convulsions. There was no time to knock on Noah's door. There was no time to find a high place or climb a tree. It was instantaneous judgment.
And, it didn't just last an hour or two; it continued for months and the whole planet was turned completely inside out by these tremendous acts of God. The problem with people (even believers), is that we fail to understand that with God nothing is impossible. God handling this old planet is like you or me handling a marble or ball bearing. It's that simple in His power - He can do with it whatever He wants. He controls all the forces of nature and outer space, and this was all brought to bear in the early months of what we refer to as Noah's flood. Remember years back, the old front-loading washing machines had a window in the door - and when the machine was started, you could see the suds and the clothing start to roll violently. That's much the way the earth would have looked as Noah's flood started. It was complete turmoil.
We have plenty of archaeological proof for this. In fact, if you get into a study of the flood, all around the earth you'll find a soil product called "loess" which comes solely from volcanic action. In every place on this planet there has been laid down, (even on our ocean floors), a tremendous amount of "loess," and the only logical time that this could have been laid down is during the flood, with all its volcanic action. Along with the flood, we also have a disappearance of much of the land surface of the pre-Noah time. We believe that the land surface of the earth from the time of Adam until the flood of Noah's day, was much larger than it is today. Seventy-five percent of the earth's surface is water today. Only a small portion of it is land, and only a small percentage of that land surface is habitable. Most of it is uninhabitable.
Up until the time of Noah, the earth was beautiful, tremendously productive with vegetation beyond our imagination, and highly populated. I have a friend who was in the space program back in the 1960's. He and a friend of his calculated how many people could have been here from the time of Adam until Noah (about 1600 years). They had an easy mathematical time approaching four to five billion people. The reason for that (and we've witnessed this in recent years) is once you get to a certain level, population doubles. Once it doubles, it begins to grow exponentially - to just explode. So, we can be confident that at the time of Noah's flood, the earth was highly populated and had tremendous technology. But when the flood came, there was no time to escape. It was complete and instantaneous, and for that reason there is not much evidence of the things before Noah's flood except in fossil records. And the only logical way to view the fossil records, is that they are a direct result of the flood. Scientists are going to scoff at this.
Turn to I Timothy 6 in the New Testament. I am an avid supporter of good science. I love science, and I love people who have the intellectual and physical fortitude to go into it. It's an exciting discipline. But we have to be honest, and scientists aren't always honest. In I Timothy 6:20, the Apostle Paul is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and he says:
I Timothy 6:20
"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:"
Paul is saying, "Timothy, watch out for the false sciences." True science never disagrees with Scripture. True science and Scripture always fit "hand in glove." But, it's these false sciences, the man-made sciences, that cast all the belligerent reflections on the Word of God. They are not true sciences. The reason some sciences are false and not true sciences is that, in them, everything is based on what man thinks. They can actually prove nothing in the laboratory. Compare that to mathematics, which is a true science, because you can never change the makeup of true mathematics. You cannot change the true workings of physics or chemistry, either. But a geologist can come along and say, "Well, we think `such-and-such'," and then the next generation comes along and they are taught that theory as a truth or absolute fact. I've got no argument with theory. If someone wants to come up with a bizarre theory, and he will tell his students in the classroom that it is "strictly theory - we can't prove it," then I don't object to that. I've even told kids in high school classes, "if your teacher makes it plain that what he's teaching is simply some man-made idea, and that it's only `theory', I'm not going to complain." But, educators usually come in and say, "That's the way it was," and I have a problem with that.
Public television programs such as "Nova" are very interesting, but gullible people believe everything that's said. You can only determine so much from fossil records. The rest is interpolation and assumption. Here's good example. Go into any basic college geology course and the first thing they throw at their students is a "geologic column," an "evolutionary geologic column" or time scale. They teamed up with evolutionary biologists and have divided the structure of the surface of the earth into various strata which they associate a particular time period with. That time period is dependent on the fossils found in that one strata. If near the bottom they have found a very simple life form, they maintain that that is the oldest rock on the earth, it's the farthest down from the top, and consequently, the very earliest of life forms are found in this layer.
Then, as they find in higher strata Ö say, reptiles, they say, that naturally you'll find them throughout all the earth's structure in this level, and it's the next higher form of life, because its "evolved" from those simplest of life forms into the reptile. The next up from reptiles is, I believe, birds, and so on up that geologic column. All that sounds so believable, because as wind and erosion, etc. pile this material up, naturally the oldest would be at the bottom, and at the top would be the fossils of man. It all sounds so logical. But, what they don't tell people is that nowhere on earth have they ever found these fossils in this clear order. Never! They are all mixed up. Granted, there may be levels of sandstone or rock of some kind, with only primordial forms. But, it's not on the bottom! It may be way up on top! Study the Geological Time Scale Example A on the next page.
So, it's a lie, and our kids fall for it. Then they come home and tell their parents that they can no longer believe the Bible because their geology professor has "proved" that evolution is the only thing that makes sense. What the teacher doesn't tell them is that these are only theories - they can't prove it - but, they tout them as truths. Some other verses in the New Testament that we need to look at are in II Peter 3:1-6:
II Peter 3:1-6
"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, `Where is the promise of his coming?' for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:"
Verse 2 refers to "words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets" or the Old Testament. Verse 3 says we should "know" or expect that there will be those who will mock and scoff at Biblical truths. And, as we discussed a few chapters ago, these people are "willingly ignorant," as it says in verse 5, they do not want to know any different, they won't listen to anything different than what they are teaching. If you were to speak to a geology professor and point out that the theories he purports as truths have discrepancies because things just aren't consistently as he says on the earth's surface, they are all mixed up in various levels; and that you believe it was Noah's Flood, he'll just laugh at you, because he doesn't want to believe that there was ever a flood. We know from the chronological record, that Noah's flood could not have taken place more than 5000 to 6000 years ago, and that blows their millions and millions of years theories `out of the water'! So, they totally reject Noah's flood. You will never find a current college or university textbook on geology mention Noah's flood; they totally reject and ignore it.
This is where we come into the controversy of what is being taught our children. Some states have tried to pass laws that if schools are going to teach evolution, they also have to teach creationism; and the educators reject it, because it makes a fallacy of everything they are trying to teach our kids. What takes more faith? Believing something like evolution that is a figment of somebody's imagination, or believing the true record? I believe it would take a lot more faith to believe the false than it does the true.
An oilman, if he were a true geologist, would say Ö "Wait a minute! In the oil business, we rest on geology." My answer to him would be, "Tell me, would it put oil in any different strata if it were laid down by Noah's flood as opposed to evolution?" No, it wouldn't change anything, the oil would still be in the same places. I've had some geologists in my classes, and they have been able to reconcile this. They will say something like, "If I'm going to believe any of God's Word, then I have to believe all of it. I can reconcile the fact that there is oil and gas in certain places, there are coal deposits in certain places, because of the Scriptural records, and I don't have to go back and say that a geologist says `such-and-such.'"
We have to be careful and make our young people aware that science is not always honest. I remember when the U.S. astronauts were making the "moon walk." The same friend I told you about earlier was involved in that project. If you'll remember, before they went to the moon, they had one big fear of landing there - that they would sink into the dust. When they got there and found that that dust was only about twelve inches deep, the whole scientific community was so shocked that they immediately went to work building an instrument that they could place on the moon's surface on the next trip, which would measure how much and how fast this lunar dust was collecting on the moon. They just couldn't believe that there were so few inches of lunar dust on its surface, if the moon was billions of years old. They decided to make a special instrument to measure how much dust was filtering to the moon's surface in a given period of time, and set it up on their next trip. When they went back the next time, they measured it and were aghast that instead of some infinitesimal, immeasurable amount, there was a fraction of an inch of dust, which indicated that the moon couldn't be more than ten thousand years old, at the most!
My friend told me that when the scientists got that information, they buried it, so that the public wouldn't find out, and it remained hidden until just a few years ago, when in the Tulsa World, I saw a little article on the back page that gave that fact. The scientists didn't want the public to know that, because, it simply blew their theories of millions upon millions of years being involved in the evolution of our solar system. So, this brings us back to the false, so-called "sciences." We have to take them with a grain of salt.
I remember a few years ago, a fellow showed me an article in one of the prestigious archaeology magazines, in which they were refuting the existence of a little town mentioned in the Old Testament. He asked me about it. I told him to wait just a little while, because one thing about archaeologists, they are honest enough that when they find something in line with the Scriptures, they'll announce it. And sure enough, it wasn't even a year later that that very magazine had to admit that the little town that they had said `never existed,' had been found, according to the Biblical record. Every time they scoff at the Old Testament record, all you have to do is set back and say, "The Bible is the true record. This is the Word of God and God does not lie."
The entire scientific community tonight will not recognize Noah's flood, because it totally changed everything so that the history of this planet, instead of going back millions and millions of years, in actuality, goes back to Noah's flood. Even carbon 14 dating cannot be accurate beyond the flood, because it is based on a continuous degeneration under continuous circumstances. Those continuous circumstances were interrupted at Noah's flood. The whole planet was wrapped in volcanic ash and volcanic smoke from the center of the earth; along with that, there was a deluge of the water, that totally changed the face of the planet. If you've ever seen pictures of what a rampaging river flood can do, taking everything in its path, you've got a glimpse of what was taking place on the entire surface of the planet. There was total destruction from pole to pole; and from East to West. No one knew what hit him!
In our next chapter, we'll look at some things that archaeologists can't explain. If they'd just give the flood the credit for it, they'd have all their questions answered.
(5c) How was Noah's Ark a picture of the eternal security of a TRUE believer ?
Book 3 LESSON ONE * PART I
NOAH, "SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER"
The ark was tremendous in size and capable of holding all the Bible says it did. Most important, the ark was a picture of our Salvation. The Hebrew word "pitch," used in conjunction with the ark, is the same word that's translated "atonement" in other Scriptures. The pitch sealed the ark against the waters of judgment making it a place of safety for those within. The Blood (atonement) of Christ makes our salvation secure. If a person is not "under the Blood" he does not have Salvation! Also, God was in the ark when He made the invitation to Noah, his family, and all of creation to enter the ark. It was time for judgment to fall. But after the animals and Noah and his family were securely inside the ark, God left the door open another seven days so anyone else could come into that ark of safety; but none came.
"And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in."
Underline that last phrase in your Bible; it's tantamount to New Testament doctrine. It says, "The LORD closed it behind him." The word "LORD" in all capital letters in the Old Testament always refers to "Jehovah." With maybe a few exceptions, Jehovah is God the Son - Jesus' Old Testament revelation. When the LORD, Jehovah, God the Son, invited them into the ark, He became the gyroscope that maintained the safety of the ark throughout the flood, and when we look at the flood closely, we'll see it was more than just calmly rising water. So, God shut the door! There was only one door in the ark, and in the New Testament, we are told over and over there is only "One Door!" John 10:1-14 uses the analogy of the Sheepfold Door: the only door to the sheepfold is The Lord Jesus. Peter also makes this plain in Acts 4:
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Later on Paul uses this analogy in I Corinthians 3:11:
I Corinthians 3:11
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
This is the reason there was only one door going into the ark, and when that door was shut, there was no possible way anyone else could enter. There was only one window in the top of the roof, but it could not have provided access to someone from the outside. There was probably a band just under the eve or roof-line of the ark for ventilation, but the water couldn't splash into it as the seas rose. All these things are pertinent to our own Salvation experience. There's only one door to Salvation, and when we enter that door, God seals it. There's not a human latch on that door - God shuts us in!
With that background (as there is so much controversy and confusion today about the whole concept of eternal security, I am teaching it as I believe The Lord has revealed it to me, for that is where my responsibility lies), coming from the perspective of the ark, we want to stop and analyze this particular doctrine. Are we secure once we've entered into the ark of safety? Is the Blood of Christ sufficient to take us through those times of testing and the final judgment? Go to Romans 8. We have established that God "shut the door," and it was the pitch - the Atonement as it were - that sealed out those waters of judgment for Noah. It's the Blood of Christ that secures us from any judgment from whatever source. This is a tremendous promise for us. Can God lie? Absolutely not! If we believe The Bible is the inspired Word of God, then if God said it, that settles it! There's no controversy. Verse 1:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,..."
That's conditional! That's qualified! That doesn't cover the whole human race. But for those members of the human race that are "in Christ Jesus" the promise of God is that we will never face condemnation. I don't use the rest of the verse given in the King James Version because almost every scholar that has looked into these things maintains that the last part of verse 1 was never in the original manuscripts. It has only shown up in a few, and they feel that somewhere along the line, someone who was not inspired added that portion that reads "...who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." It comes up again later in the chapter where it is appropriate.
"There is therefore now no condemnation..." That means exactly what it says! There is nothing that God can bring against us in condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus! Why? For the same reason that once Noah and his family went into the ark, and the door was shut and the ark was sealed against the waters of judgment, no harm could come to them. In the first seven chapters of the Book of Romans, the Holy Spirit has been mentioned only once or twice. That's what leaves Paul in such a dilemma in Chapter 7 verse 15 when he says, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I." Then he breaks out in Chapter 8 with the remedy, The Holy Spirit. In this short chapter, the Holy Spirit is mentioned nineteen times! Verse 14:
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Not they "might be," or they can "hope to be," but they are! That's a present tense verb. Take a contemporary situation, a husband and wife with two or three children. One of the children becomes a belligerent renegade - he is an embarrassment to everything the family stands for. Finally, his parents say, "He is such an embarrassment that we don't even want him to partake in the inheritance. Let's go to the law and totally disinherit him. Let's not even recognize him as a son." And so they do. But know matter where that child goes, whose blood is flowing through his veins? His Parents'!
It's the same way here. Once we have entered into this kind of a relationship, and we have become bonafide children of God by virtue of all the acts of God that are attendant to our Salvation, who can change that? No one, it can't be done. We may think that God should kick someone out of His family, but the Scripture stands. If that person has genuinely entered in, he is in permanently. This is where I make the qualifications. I am a firm believer in eternal security only for those who have been genuinely saved. For a genuinely saved person, there is no condemnation. But I'm not talking about people who may have gone through some set of rules whereby they became church members and automatically by rote repetition are qualified as a Christian. I don't buy that! People who just simply walk the aisle, following whatever procedure may be given to them, and doing it by rote repetition, are not genuinely saved.
That's not Salvation. But for the person who has genuinely come under the power of The Holy Spirit, and has genuinely believed the Gospel with all his heart, then I have to maintain what the Scripture says, "There is therefore now no condemnation..." He is a child of God and always will be. Let's read on starting with verse 15:
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." "...ye have received..." - this is past tense, it's been done! We come into that relationship with God as complete, mature sons. That is brought about to a fuller extent in verse 16:
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" There are no if's, and's, but's or maybe's! We are children of God! The Spirit makes us know we are sons of God.
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
Look at these promises! If we're children, then we are heirs of God; and if we're heirs of God, then we are joint heirs with Christ. Do you know what it means to be a joint heir? It means that everything that is His is ours. But on the other hand, everything that is ours is His also! Many believers don't like to accept that thought. Just as surely as everything that's God's is now ours, He expects that everything that's ours is His. If he expects it, He doesn't command it - He doesn't demand it. And this is the beauty of Grace.
Occasionally, people say things that just make my day. One night as I was leaving, I heard a dear lady that I know has been a believer for years saying to a friend, "It wasn't until the last two or three weeks that I've come to understand the Grace of God." We had been discussing Genesis where Ishmael came on the scene. Hagar had become pregnant by Abram and she was causing such trouble in the home that Sarai finally said, "Abram, get her out of here, I can't stand it." So Abram did. But God came on the scene and told Hagar to return to Sarai's tent. Why didn't He just leave her in the desert where she and her son finally ended up anyway? Because of God's eternal purpose in this situation. It would be a living example of a New Testament truth.
A few years later, Abraham's son of promise, Isaac was born. He was the one that God has said in the beginning would be born. As Isaac became a young boy, Ishmael made life miserable for him. Then God entered the situation directly and instructed Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness, for Ishmael will not live under the same roof with the son of promise, Isaac. That sounds almost cruel, but God did all this because Paul was going to use that as an allegory in Galatians 4:21-31:
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman (Ishmael) was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman (Isaac) was by promise." Ishmael stood for Law and legalism; Isaac stood for Grace. To prove those two can't let live under the same roof, Paul says:
"But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
So even as Ishmael was sent out, so also must Law and legalism be sent out, because Law and legalism cannot live under the same roof with the son of promise, Isaac, who represented Grace. We have to come to the understanding that we live under Grace - the very grace of God which is beyond our human comprehension! That's the only reason I can stand here and teach that if you are once a genuine born again child of God, you can never be cast out. Arguments arise by those who say, "I know so and so who did such and such." My answer is, if God hasn't begun a disciplining process in their lives, I doubt if they have ever been genuinely saved.
The Bible makes it so clear that if you're a child of God and you begin to waver in your walk, He will begin to discipline you. Then we also can see that the Bible says that if discipline doesn't work, and we get rebellious, God will take us home. He's not going to let someone stay and continue to bring reproach to His Name. Remember I used the illustration of the Redeemer, and how one was bought out of the salve market and totally removed from anything that would tie him to the slave market. His Roman master gave him his freedom so that he could go anywhere in the empire with a purchased citizenship. What was the servant likely to say? "You, my master, have done so much for me, I want to stay here and be your servant." That's exactly how Salvation works. Once we have come into the grace of God and comprehend all that God has done for us, how can we help but want to serve Him? We're going back to Romans 8:22. This is a whole different thought in here and we'll come back to it another time. Paul continues:
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
Paul says that we as believers have the "firstfruits of the Spirit." He goes on to say that we are waiting for the "redemption of our body." Most believers have sat under teaching about the Salvation of the soul, but I've found as I've gotten into The Word, that God is not just concerned for the soul, but He is concerned about the redemption of the whole person: Body, Soul and Spirit. In light of that, turn to I Corinthians 12. We're following this same concept, that once we enter into that ark of safety (which for us is the Gospel of Salvation - that Christ died, His Blood was shed, He was buried and He rose again) and when we believe that with all our hearts, then we enter into eternal redemption. In I Corinthians 12: 12,13, we see Paul expressing this concept of being in the "Body." Instead of the ark, he uses the illustration of the human body as a type of the "Body of Christ." The human body is made up of all its various parts; fingers, toes, eyes, etc. These are all different organs with different functions, but they all operate under one center of operation in the mind and make up One Body.
I Corinthians 12:12,13
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
Now, does the Holy Spirit baptize with water? No! So, this is not talking about water baptism, yet nearly every Christian group will not accept a person for membership without water baptism. Do you really believe that every member in your congregation is a born again child of God? Of course not! We are all members of congregations where there are unbelievers who have been baptized under whatever form of baptism their particular group uses. There are still people coming into every group who are totally unsaved; they're baptized and they are members there, but they are not members of the Body of Christ. There will be no unbelievers in the Body of Christ because that's the work of the Holy Spirit - to immediately place or baptize them into the Body of Christ. The reason Paul uses this analogy of the human body is that some believers' roles are no more that that of a little pinkie finger. Some may even have the role of a little toe, which most people never see. Others may be in more visible roles, but every one of us, regardless of where God has placed us in the Body, has a function in that Body, be it small or great.
We'll get back to Romans 8 in moment, but here in I Corinthians 12, it shows very clearly what God expects of His children. Here, Paul mentions the gifts that really amount to something; the very gifts Christ uses, by an act of the Holy Spirit, to search the heart. The Holy Spirit will never place an unbeliever into the Body of Christ. None of us can examine someone else close enough to screen him from the membership in our local church. We can't do it, and we're not supposed to. That's why Jesus gave the illustration during His earthly ministry of the "tares and the wheat." Years ago, when I was teaching in that concept of the tares and the wheat, an agronomist at the college brought in some tares and wheat. You couldn't tell the difference, but one would never give a grain and the other would. It's the same way in the church. We can't judge and say, "That church member is not a child of God." That's not our job. But, we have to be aware that in the Body of Christ there are no false professors - only the genuine believer is in the Body of Christ, and that's the only Christ there is.
So that's the membership you'd better be sure of. Don't worry about whether you are member of the biggest church in town or the smallest; just be sure you are a member of the Body of Christ, and remember the qualification: It's for all! "For by one spirit we were baptized into one body!"
(6c) What is the unpardonable sin ?
Book 15 LESSON TWO * PART II
MATTHEW REVIEW: UNPARDONABLE SIN:PARABLES OF LUKE 15: THE SECRETS OF THE BODY NOT REVEALED
Take your Bible and join in with us for this study. Once you get into the Book of Books you just can't beat it. It is just so fabulous. So many people have the idea it's just a musty, dusty, old Book and just a bunch of Bible stories, and it's not. Everything fits from cover to cover, and it's all written so miraculously. That's why we know it's not an ordinary Book, but rather the Divine, inspired Word of God, and is everything that God said it is. As I've said before, I just want to look at the "overall plan of the ages," as someone has put it, and hit some of the high points, and some of the passages that questions arise from.
In Matthew Chapter 12, beginning with verse 31, we have a few little verses that have raised so many questions. This passage used to bother me also, but when you come to any portion of Scripture, be ready to constantly ask questions from your own point of view. Right here we have what people normally call the "unpardonable sin." When something is unpardonable, that means it's going to be your doom. In other words, if you are guilty of the unpardonable sin, then you have no hope of glory, and are headed for the lake of fire. I've looked at these verses in the knowledge that, the only sin that is going to condemn anyone, Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor is not any particular thing we have said, or deed we have done. There is only one thing that will condemn a person to the lake of fire, and that is "UNBELIEF."
We are not talking about unbelief here, we are talking about something that is spoken. Let me prove my point. Before we look at Matthew 12, let's look at the Book of Hebrews Chapter 3 for a moment. Maybe I can make my point from the reverse end. I don't want someone to go through life scared to death that maybe they have committed the unpardonable sin, which most people feel, according to Matthew 12 is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a sin, and there is no doubt about it. But if I understand Scripture correctly, there is no sin that the Grace of God doesn't reach beyond. In other words, the most violent of sinners are still candidates of the Grace of God. But what do they have to do? "BELIEVE."
I think the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews that we are now going to look at. He is taking the experience of Israel having just come out of Egypt, with God leading them to the Promised Land. When they got to Kadesh Barnea, who's idea was it to send in spies? It certainly wasn't God's. God had never intended for them go search out the land. God said, "Go in and take the land, and I'll send in hornets ahead of you and drive the people out." But Israel couldn't even take God at His word at that point in time. So they hedge and say, "Well let us spy it out first." God in His goodness then condescended to their request and said, "Alright, choose out twelve men and let them go in." And that was one of the biggest mistakes that Israel ever made. Ten of them said, "Oh, we can't do it. There is no way we can drive out the Canaanites, we are as grasshoppers in their sights." God had already said that He would drive them out. So what was their problem?
"While it is said, `To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (in other words, as Israel was there in the wilderness). For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he (God) grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (what?) believed not?'"
They had committed many sins of immorality; the golden calf; all pagan practices of worship. But God is not holding that against them - He doesn't even mention that, as vile as it was. He could forgive that kind of sin. But what was Israel's problem? "UNBELIEF." They couldn't believe what God had said.
"So we see that they (the children of Israel) could not enter in because of unbelief."
Has anything changed? No! God can forgive to the uttermost, any sin except the sin of UNBELIEF (when people refuse to believe that Christ died for them, paid their sin debt, and rose from the dead in power. And that's all He's asking). So believe it for your salvation! If a person refuses to believe that Gospel, then that person's doom is sealed. Remember Hebrews 11:6 says to you and I in the Age of Grace:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him...."
Let's go back to Matthew 12 and look at the unpardonable sin. We need to leave this verse right where it sits. This is God dealing with the Nation of Israel. This doesn't mean that we can't take some warning from it. I certainly don't tell people to go out and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, because after all, God will forgive you. I would never do that. All I'm saying is that this is something that doesn't fit Church doctrine. If you can learn to leave these things where they belong, you don't have to pigeonhole them, and say you'll come back to this at a later time. It's so perfectly set. So to the Nation of Israel He says:
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man (Christ), it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world (age), neither in the world (age) to come."
Now let's look at a parable that explains this so beautifully in Matthew 21. Jesus is speaking again to the Jews:
"Hear another parable: `There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:'"
"And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants (to get some return on the investment that he had made) to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits (or profit) of it."
"And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, `They will reverence my son.' But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.' And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him, When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen (and remember this is Jesus asking the Jew). They say unto him, `He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.' Jesus saith unto them, `Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?'"
"Therefore say I unto you, `The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.' And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables (plural, not just this one, but everyone that He had spoken), they perceived that he spake of them."
They suddenly understood that Jesus was pointing His finger at them. Now what was the parable all about? God called the Nation of Israel out, and gave them the Covenant promises. He called them His son, His favored nation. And He dealt with them through the Old Testament years by sending the prophets. What did they do to the prophets? They killed them. We always like to talk in terms of the Trinity. So let's look at it this way. Remember the Jew only knew about God the Father. So God the Father sent the prophets to His Covenant people and they killed them, or threw them in the dungeons. They refused to hear them. Did God cancel the Nation of Israel because of that? No. God sent His only Son next, The Christ. And Christ presented Himself to the Nation of Israel, on the basis of the covenants that we have been emphasizing for months. And what did they do with the Son? They killed Him. So these Pharisees are picking up on it. He's talking about them. And so it is in all of Jesus' parables.
But we have one Person of the Trinity left out. The Holy Spirit. Let's look at the Scripture that pertains to the Holy Spirit. And if you can't go along with this, don't worry about it. I've always said in my teaching there is room for you to disagree on some things, and this is one of them. But to me it makes sense in light of the fact that there is one sin that condemns us, and that is unbelief concerning the Gospel. In other words, I maintain, someone could blaspheme the Holy Spirit tomorrow or next week and God can still save him in this Age of Grace. But let's not lose sight of what the unpardonable sin is dealing with, and that is Israel the Nation! She is the one that is coming under this anathema of God.
Now go to Acts Chapter 6. Israel has rejected the overtures from the Father by killing the prophets. They rejected the overtures of the Son by killing The Christ. But how are they going to deal with the Holy Spirit, because here is the unpardonable part now - how they deal with third Person of the Godhead. He could forgive the first two, but not the third one. We have, in Acts Chapter 6, the appointment of seven men, normally referred to as deacons. They get the word "deacon" from the description of their duties. We find in verse 3 that the early Jewish church in Jerusalem was having some problems and so the following happened:
"Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business."
"And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost,..." Now we have the Holy Spirit mentioned twice in two verses. So Stephen comes before this whole Jewish crowd.
"And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."
What is permeating Stephen? The presence of the Holy Spirit. It was so radiant they could see the difference. Go to Chapter 7 verse 2. Now watch the language of whom Stephen is addressing:
"And he said, `Men, brethren, and fathers (all Jews), hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham,...'" Can any Gentile claim that? Of course not.
If you ever want the history of the Nation of Israel in a nutshell, read this whole chapter. It even gives a lot of little details that the Old Testament leaves out.
"And when they (these Jews) heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth."
"But he, being full of the Holy Ghost (do you see the emphasis over and over that the Holy Spirit is on display here?), looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus (not sitting but rather) standing on the right hand of God," In a future lesson, we'll pick up the reason these Jews got so mad when they heard Stephen say that Jesus was standing.
"And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, `Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, `Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep (died).'"
From this point on, what is the future as we see here in the Book of Acts concerning the Nation of Israel? All down hill. And why? Because they had now committed that unpardonable sin of not only rejecting the Father and The Son, but now had also rejected the Holy Spirit. And for nearly 2000 years, what has the Jew been going through? Suffering, turmoil, in a state of spiritual blindness. Here in America they are pretty fortunate, but overall for all this time, basically they have been going through the mill. But when this age ends and we come into the next age, which is the millennium reign, Israel is going to come into God's goodness and Grace. If you don't like that approach about the unpardonable sin you don't have to agree. But for me it fits so beautifully, because we have left it in place. Notice we didn't take it out of the Nation of Israel and try to put it in the Church Age, but left it right where it was, with the Jewish economy.
Another point I would like to make is this. After the stoning of Stephen and the Holy Spirit aspect, the next event of importance in the chronological unfolding is the conversion of what great man? Saul of Tarsus (Paul). Even though Peter will go to the house of Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10 (after Saul is converted in Chapter 9), Chapters 11 and 15 mention Peter, and from there to the end of the Book of Acts Peter is never mentioned again. Why? Israel is now falling out of all the things that God had been promising, and now here comes Paul with the Body of Christ, the predominately Gentile Church. When we study the Book of Acts, I'll show you the transitional aspect of this Book, how God deals with His Covenant people Israel under the Law with all the Old Testament promises; and how when they rejected it, God now does something totally different - something the Old Testament knew nothing of. He turned to the Gentiles with the Apostle Paul.
(7c) When was the earth created according to the Bible ?
Book 1 LESSON ONE * PART IV
Turn to Genesis 1:1,2. Last time we talked about Christ's being the Person of the Godhead who called everything into being. We talked about how the Hebrew word "Barah" indicates not only creation, but perfect, beautiful creation. God can't create something that isn't perfect and good. Throughout Chapter 1 of Genesis, we see that as God made things, He inspected them and recorded that "it was good." Yet, when we come to verse 2 of this Chapter we read: "And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep."
That hardly sounds perfect and beautiful. Rather it implies a "mess," chaos. If God, in verse 1, created the earth beautiful and perfect, (we have no indication of the time element between these two verses) and now, in verse 2 it's less than that, it's obvious that something drastic has happened. That beautiful creation of verse 1 has been changed into something ..... "without form, void, covered with water, and enveloped in darkness."
This is the first flood. A flood condition existed over the entire face of the planet. This may be an explanation of why God told Noah in Genesis 9:13,15: "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth...And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh ."
Why would God make so big an issue of not ever destroying the world again in this manner? Because He made this covenant with Noah, following the second worldwide flood which destroyed all life. "And darkness was upon the face of the deep." Here the earth was covered with water and that which God had originally created perfect and beautiful was undone. All we can do to understand this situation is to search the Scriptures for an explanation. Turn in your Bible to Ezekiel 28:13-15. Remember when you study Scriptures, ask yourself questions about what you're reading. What is being said; about whom is it being said; who's doing the talking; etc. Now verses 13-15:
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created."
"Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire."
"Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."
Now, let's look at these verses phrase by phrase:
"You were in Eden, the garden of God;"
Who do we know, according to Scripture, was in the Garden of Eden?
God * Adam * Eve * Satan
"...every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald and the carbuncle, and gold."
These beautiful gemstones mentioned here are mentioned again in the book of Revelation in the description of the New Jerusalem. (Again we see that what began in Genesis, we will see ending in Revelation).
"...the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created."
Now, because we know that God is not a created being, this indicates that the passage must refer to Adam or Eve or Satan.
"...Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth;"
In Scripture, people are never referred to as cherubs or angelic beings; so here we see that God is addressing an angelic being, and through the prophet Ezekiel, is revealing that angelic being to us. So we can deduce that this passage is referring to Satan. The term "covers" in Hebrew refers to "rule." So we see that this angelic being is a ruling being.
"...and I have set thee so:"
God says, "I placed you there." This angelic being was ruling because he was placed there by a sovereign act of God.
"Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God;"
Again, in Scripture, unless a specific mountain or land area is mentioned, mountain is normally used to indicate a "kingdom" rather than just a "hill" somewhere. So God says to this angelic being, Satan, "you ruled over a kingdom I gave you."
"Thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire."
These stones of fire refer to the gemstones named in the verses above. So we see that this angelic creature was ruling, by God's sovereign command, over a kingdom that was literally impregnated with these precious jewels, these glorious gemstones along with all the other beauties of nature. We see all these gemstones referred to again in Revelation 21 as a part of the New Jerusalem coming down - restoring the world to its original beauty of Genesis 1:1:
"Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."
In verse 15, God is continuing to speak to this angelic being, describing his perfection "until" - a time word. At some specific point in time, this angelic being lost, dropped, destroyed his perfection and iniquity or unrighteousness was found in him. What was his problem? Turn to
Isaiah 14:12-14. Here the prophet says,
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, Which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.'"
In verse 12 we discover the name of this angelic being - "Lucifer," along with his actions "which didst weaken the nations." These nations refer to angelic kingdoms over which he had dominion, because mankind was not yet made for him to have rule over.
Now, look what he says. ..... (Notice all the "I will's"). "...I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;..."
This angelic being, Lucifer, was not satisfied with all God had given him. Instead, he wanted even more - even to usurp the very power and position of God. Satan is still trying that. Remember his temptation of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 4:8,9?
"Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, 'All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'"
He still attempts to bribe us into worshipping him today in much the same way.
"I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north;"
The "sides of the north" are where some theologians get the idea that heaven is located somewhere behind the northern sky. It may or may not be. We can only speculate on this and we have more important things to contemplate.
"I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."
Here God is quoting the heart thoughts of this creature. Lucifer is saying (and still is saying) in his heart, "I will be like the Most High." This angelic being has everything he could possibly expect ever to have: he's beautiful, he's surrounded by beauty over which he has total dominion. But the one thing he lacks that is not within his grasp is to be God or higher than God.
Soon in our studies we'll be coming to Genesis 3:1-6. We'll see Eve in the garden. She has everything she could possibly want: a perfect home, a perfect husband, a perfect environment. And what does Satan tempt her with? "If you'll eat the forbidden fruit, you'll be `like God.'" And she falls for it!
This is what I refer to throughout the Scripture as "The Lie" - that human beings can be "like God." When you hear that touted, don't believe it! Certainly we are sons, children of God; and Paul tells us in Phil. 3:20-21 that our bodies shall be changed to be like Jesus' glorified body, but we're never going to become God. That would be impossible. And that's the LIE! As this world is so fast winding down, with all the false teachings and movements like the New Age or "Shirley McLainism," what is the pitch we hear being offered by the cults? "You're going to become God." When the Antichrist shows up, he's going to promise everything including this LIE in order to get control of the world.
Always be aware as you study the unfolding of the human experience that Satan's big lie, the one most people will fall for, and the basis for all the cults is this very one, "You will become God," or "You will become like God." Lucifer found out that he could not become God, and God brought him down. Consequently, as a result of that judgment the earth became changed from what it was in Genesis 1:1 to what it is recorded as being in Genesis 1:2.
Look near the back of your Bible to the little book of Jude, verse 6. This describes the angels being chained, awaiting judgment. This ties in with a passage in Revelation 12:3-4 which reads:
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth ..."
We see that this angelic being, Lucifer, who ruled over an angelic kingdom, in his rebellion against God, actually convinced one-third of the angelic host of heaven to follow him in his rebellion, and they are referred to in Jude as "fallen angels," locked up and awaiting judgment. These are not the precursors of demons. The Bible doesn't tell us just where demons do come from, only that they exist as a part of Satan's forces of evil.
Looking back at Genesis 1:2, now we see that the earth is "without form." In judgment on Lucifer, God destroyed the earth and knocked him out of his place of authority and rule over that beautiful creation to become the great "adversary" or enemy of God. And God, in his sovereignty has permitted that.
Satan, Paul tells us, can transform himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). Don't believe the cartoon portrayals of Satan as dressed in red leotards, with horns and a tail and carrying a pitchfork; or as Milton described him as "the one who stokes the fires of hell." Satan is a powerful angelic being with great cunning and intellect. He is limited only by the sovereign power of God. Satan will do anything to promote his own ends. He'll even promote good and beautiful things if, by doing so, he can keep a human being from seeing the truth of God's Word. Don't sell him short! He's got tremendous power! In Genesis 1:2, we find that God's beautiful creation of verse 1 has been destroyed because of Satan's (Lucifer's) rebellion. It was destroyed by water.
In verses 3-19 in Chapter 1, the work described being done by God does not actually refer to works of creation, but rather to works of restoration. In verse 2 the earth and all that was on it did not cease to exist - it just became dysfunctional. Verses 3-19 record the steps God took to restore his creation of verse 1 to a functional condition - to restore it to what it had been before the rebellion. There's not a word in the Hebrew text that refers to creation in these verses, and we don't see that "creativity" of God until we get to verse 20 where animal life is introduced, and later of course, when Adam is created.
In verse 3, the Almighty, Triune God, through the Person of Jesus Christ, as we see in the New Testament, says, "Let there be light." It doesn't say He created it - just that He made it functional. He removed whatever had hidden the light from the scene.
Verses 4 & 5: "And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
Some like to say that this could be a day of any amount of time. However, the description of the separation of light from darkness really indicates a 24-hour day, in my opinion. It is the beginning of time as we know it. We are creatures of time. We are governed by it, slaves to it. It's an integral part of our human experience.
Science says all creation is composed of three things:
Space * Matter * Time
If you remove any one of these factors, you have nothing. All creation as we know it is matter traveling through a given amount of space in a given period of time. Everything concerning time is based on our 24-hour day. Everything in space is meticulously timed. The scientists can tell us when to expect a comet, even though it's been out of sight for years, based on a time table governed by the laws of nature God established at creation. Ships navigate by the stars because their movement is regular, dependable. All of human experience is tied to God's creation of time in verses 3 through 5. This is the only way we can comprehend that in six 24-hour days God got everything ready for the human experience, and then on the 7th day He rested.
For the next session, read verses 6 through 19 of Genesis chapter 1. You'll see no reference to "creation," but rather a replenishment or restoration of what had been before. Remember, it is by faith we have understanding of God's Word. We believe it because God said it. We know God's Word is true because hundreds of sometimes even thousands of years before it was accomplished, God prophesied and recorded what would happen later. The virtue of God's Word is established by the prophesies already fulfilled. ..... They are the proof of the Scriptures.
Book 1 LESSON Two * PART I
FIVE DAYS OF RE-CREATION
We're going to pick up right where we left off in the last chapter. I hope you had opportunity to read Genesis 1:6-23 as I suggested in preparation for today's lesson. Please take note that the language used in these verses is not that of creation, but rather that of restoration. God has taken that which the previous verses (Genesis 1:2-5) indicate was under water and darkness as a result of a previous judgment, and restored it to a functional condition. When we get down to verse 20, we'll see that God again, through an act of creation, brings forth the animal kingdom, and from verse 26 through the end of the chapter, the human race.
Verse 6: "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters."
All you have to do to understand this verse is to analyze the wording carefully. The word "Firmament" is what we would normally refer to as our atmosphere - our sky. It may involve or include a certain portion of what we would call space, the planets closest to earth, but generally speaking, we will consider the firmament as earth's atmosphere.
Looking closely at this, the Word says here that God is going to divide the water that is presently covering the planet (as a result of an earlier judgment). The earth is in a state of total flood - what we previously called the "First Flood." God, the Scripture says, is going to divide these flood waters and move part of them out above our atmosphere. We can picture that as a vapor belt out in space surrounding the earth. This same vapor belt will later be brought back on earth at the time of "Noah's Flood," but for now, let's just picture it out in space with the remainder of the water left covering the planet's surface.
Verse 7: "And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so."
God accomplished what He had spoken in verse 6.
Verse 8: "And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day."
God names the firmament (atmosphere) "heaven." Previously we talked about the three heavens mentioned in Scripture:
1. The 1st Heaven which is the earth's atmosphere; the area in which the birds fly. The Scriptures even use that terminology; "The fowls of the Heavens;" (Jer. 9:10).
2. The 2nd Heaven which we now understand as "space;" ... that area where the stars and planets are.
3. The 3rd Heaven, mentioned in II Cor. 12:2 when Paul speaks of his own experience of being caught up into the very presence of God. The 3rd heaven then is the abode of God - what we normally think of as heaven.
What we have in verse 8 then is that the earth's floodwaters have been divided with half being above the atmosphere in the "vapor belt" in the first and maybe part of the second heaven, and the remaining half covering the earth.
I'd like to give a little consideration to this vapor belt because it gives rise theoretically to the idea, much to the consternation of science today, of the earth's having had a "greenhouse effect" from the beginning. As the illustration indicates, this vapor belt was such that it shielded the earth from the damaging and harmful rays of the sun. But even more, with this moisture in place, the rays of the sun were diffused or bent through the belt so that the sunbeams could not directly strike the planet's surface. Consequently the entire earth - from pole to pole - was tropical.
Archaeological evidence shows that at one time this had to be the case. Scientists have found tropical plants and animals buried deep in the frozen snows of the polar regions, particularly in northern Siberia. We know by this evidence that this old planet at one time had a constant tropical temperature and the best way to explain this is that this vapor belt provided a greenhouse effect and the world as we understand it was of one temperature.
This also explains as the Scriptures do, that it never rained, but rather was watered from beneath. This vapor belt provided no opportunity for rain or weather phenomena of any kind, because as the sun's light rays were diffused equally around the globe rather than striking the planet's surface directly as they now do, there was no shift in temperature, no increase or decrease of atmospheric pressures. Everything remained pretty much constant.
This condition gave rise on earth to that beautiful, constant, calm weather of the pre-Noah's Flood experience of man. It was perfect beyond our comprehension. Verses 9 and 10:
"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas; and God saw that it was good."
In these verses, God separates the waters left on earth making dry land appear; and gives names to the land, "Earth," and the waters, "Seas." Verse 10 goes on to say that "God saw that it was good." It was perfect! When God calls something "Good," there's absolutely nothing amiss! Now, with the dry land having been established, and the sunlight's being able to come through, albeit diffused, the natural order once again comes on the scene as the earth "brings forth."
Verses 11 and 12: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth; and it was so."
"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind; and God saw that it was good."
There's no word here of creation. All these things have been here before, and now with the earth's having been brought back to a place of production, these things just naturally come on the scene. The seeds were already there - they just needed the right conditions to "bring forth." We've had things happen in recent times that makes this so believable. Even though it is necessary to take the Word by faith, and some things talked about in Scriptures are beyond our comprehension, yet it's appropriate for us to see the logical aspect of God's dealing with mankind and His creation.
Just a few years ago, maybe 10, Mount St. Helens just blew it's top and totally devastated the area around it. Now, just a few years later (only moments or hours in God's scheme) people are already starting to write about how beautiful the new growth and new vegetation is and how the wildlife is coming back even better than it was before.
So, it's logical that when God restored the productivity to the earth, it just naturally came back into existence. There was no need for creation - it was already there - it just needed the right conditions to produce.
Verse 12 is actually a repetition of verse 11, but notice, if you will, the use of the phrase "after his kind," again and again. This flies in the face of evolution, doesn't it? That's why there is that constant and on-going argument between adherents to the Genesis account of creation and evolutionists.
God emphasizes over and over in these verses that everything was created in its "own kind." We know through our studies in biology and botany and other earth sciences that you cannot take something of one species and cross it with something of another species - something totally different. There are times when scientists can seemingly take cells from one species and they'll survive for awhile - but only for a short while, because God has said, "everything after its own kind," and there's just no room for such a thing as the evolutionary process which says that everything came from one cell.
Remember a few years ago when there was quite a furor that for burn patients, the best therapy they had was to cover the burns with pig's skin? They could actually take thin layers of pig's skin and place it over the human's burned areas, and because the pig's skin would "breathe" or let air pass freely, it worked well in enhancing the healing process in the human physiology. But it was only a temporary fix. After a few days, those cells in the pig's skin would die and just slough off.
Now, an evolutionist says, "See, that shows that everything came from the same place." But the creationists say, "It just shows that there was one Mastermind in creation." Everything that God has created has come from that one "Mastermind," so even though there may be similarities and there are things that seem analogous, that does not tell us that they came by way of evolution, but rather that the same Creator is the instigator of all of it.
Verse 13: "And the evening and the morning were the third day."
As we discussed in a previous lesson, I believe that this refers to a regular 24-hour day as we know it today. We're not talking about things suddenly just being created out of nothing as they were in Verse 1, but they're coming back on the scene quite naturally.
Verses 14 and 15: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years; And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth; and it was so."
Again, in verse 14 it doesn't indicate that God created the lights. They've already been there - we don't know for how long, and He merely makes them functional again. Whatever He had placed over the earth in that 1st catastrophe between verses 1 and 2 that made darkness and water cover the earth and blotted out the sun, moon, and stars, God here just simply removes and they come into view and are able to do what they were originally created to do.
Verse 15 is a simple statement of fact and we believe it. When God says, "It was so," we can trust He knew what He was talking about!
Verses 16, 17 and 18: "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good."
If you'll look in a good Hebrew-English dictionary, the word translated "made" in verse 16 doesn't even come close in meaning to the word "create" that we discussed in Lesson 2. Again, this word is more in line with the idea that He simply made them operational. It doesn't say that He brought them out of nothing like the Hebrew word "Barah" does in verse 1. Verse 17 says God placed them in the "firmament of heaven," and this refers to the 2nd heaven that we discussed above - the depths of space in which revolve the galaxies.
"And God saw that it was good." Remember that God was getting everything ready for the appearance of the human race. The earth, as we saw in Lesson 1 was created to be inhabited (Is. 45:18), and verses 2 through 19 describe the process of getting it ready for mankind.
(8c) How can God send people to hell that have never heard the Gospel ?
Book 24 LESSON TWO * PART II
"The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, (Speaking of Christ) that all men through him might believe." How many? All! Not just a few, but He came that all might believe. In verse 8, John the Baptist wasn't that Light.
"He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, (Jesus the Christ, and here's something that I had never seen before) which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
It says, "He lighteth every man," and The Book doesn't lie. Now I know a lot of us get all hung up when we realize that people down in the jungles of the Amazon valley, and in certain other spiritual dark places of the world have never heard the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). And we can't comprehend a Righteous God sending them to an eternal lake of fire. But listen, The Book says over and over that for some reason or other they have received the Light. They have a certain amount of knowledge. I can't explain it but that's what The Book says, and that's what it says right here, that when Christ came into the world, "His light lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Now that's a future tense verb, so it wasn't just speaking of those living at Christ's time, but rather it was also speaking of those coming on the scene even today. They have received somehow or other the Light. Let's go to Titus Chapter 2, and another verse that I've even struggled with myself, but I take it by faith. I believe it with all my heart, and mind because The Book says it. Here the Apostle Paul is at the end of his earthly ministry, he's going to be martyred before much longer. But look at this amazing statement, and remember it's Holy Spirit inspired. It's The Word of God.
"For the grace of God (That unmerited favor that God has poured out on the whole human race) that bringeth salvation hath (past tense) appeared to all men." Not just a favored few, but all men. Now let's back up to Romans that has thrown a curve at a lot of people, and it's hard for me to teach it because it just seems so impossible, but it isn't because The Book says it.
"For the wrath of God..." And remember we're not under the wrath of God today, but rather the Grace of God. But His wrath is coming, it's getting closer every day, and one of these days God's going to have His stomach full, and He's going to start pouring out His wrath. Now reading on:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may (Now watch this) be known of God is manifest in them..."
`Manifest' is a multi-type term. There isn't just one little segment of knowledge, they have a whole bunch, just like a manifold on a V-8 engine has 8 port holes. That's one for every cylinder, that's a manifold, and the same word is associated with this word manifest. A complete unveiling of knowledge.
"for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood (See?) by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they (the whole human race) are without excuse:" That doesn't mean we can just sit in our living room and let the world go to Hell. But the constant admonition is that we are to promote the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Absolutely we are.
Book 21 LESSON TWO * PART II
"... that he (The Lord Jesus) might be just (or fair),..."
I remember sometime ago that someone presented the same question in a book or some material I was reading, and I've always had that question in my mind for as long as I can remember, just like everyone else. How will God justify sending someone to the eternal Lake of Fire when so far as we know they have never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel (Ref I Corinthians 15:1-4). The human response is this, "But God, that's not fair, because they never had a chance." Whoever presented that question said this, "You know the only way we can answer that dilemma is that God is never unjust, or unfair. So in His own higher way of thinking, God knows how He will take care of it. We can't comprehend it. But remember that God can never be unfair. He is totally just in all of his dealings.
(9c) Will there be degrees of punishment for those sentenced to hell ?
Book 14 LESSON ONE * PART IV
Now here we are at the end of the thousand years reign and rule of Christ and we are at the Great White Throne. It's up in space somewhere. It's not on the earth, because the earth has fled away. So now in the resurrection of the unjust, they are brought back bodily because that's what resurrection denotes. Now, back to Revelation 20. Here the lost stand before the Lord, Who in their case is the Judge, and not the Savior. As Judge, He shows them their record, and there will be degrees of punishment. Jesus made that so plain, when He said to the people of Capernaum in Matthew 11, the following:
"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, `That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.'" So He makes it very plain that the people of Capernaum would suffer more in their eternal doom, than the horrible people of Sodom.
Book 36 LESSON TWO * PART II
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished..." So there's coming a day when they're brought back on the scene to have their day before our Lord to see what degrees of punishment they will receive in the Lake of Fire.
"This is the first resurrection."
Now this is always confusing, because it's not talking about the rest of dead in the first part of verse 5, but the ones up in verse 4. They were in the first resurrection which was the resurrection unto life.
"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: (the believers) on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priest of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Now come on down to verse 11.
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, (which will be Christ) from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12. And I saw the dead, (the lost who have been down in Hell in torment ever since they died) small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead (those spiritually dead who never entered into salvation) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (remember a believer will never face second death, because we experience our second death when we identified with Christ when He died on the cross. Remember Paul says, `we are crucified with Christ!') 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
So these unbelievers will be resurrected out of Hell and given a body that is fit for the Lake of Fire. That sounds horrible doesn't it? But that's what the Book says.
Book 34 LESSON TWO * PART IV
"I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be."
Now those are strong words aren't they? In other words Paul is saying, "Whoever it is that is bringing in this false teaching, and is leading you away from the Gospel of Grace, his judgment is sure." He's going to one day stand before the Great White Throne where only lost people will stand, and he's going to be judged, absolutely they are. I've said for years that preachers and theologians who mislead people are going to have the hottest corner in the lake of fire, because they are misleading multitudes.
(10c) What is the origin and role of the various races of people ?
Book 3 LESSON TWO * PART II
The map on the previous page covers the area of the Mediterranean Sea and shows Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River and the Dead Sea near the lower end of which lie the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. This whole area is called the land of Canaan throughout Scripture and today is the land of Israel. We will continue to refer to it as the land of Canaan, because the Canaanites, the offspring of this grandson of Noah were occupying the land of Canaan. This carries all the way into the coming of the Nation of Israel. We'll soon get to that in Genesis 12, which I consider to be the benchmark of Genesis. From that chapter we get the setting of everything that leads into our own doctrine in the Church Age. When it comes to the choosing of a bride for Isaac, Abraham had been told by God that Isaac was not to marry a Canaanite woman. It goes back to what happened in Genesis 9. We have to go slowly; there's a reason for everything. This is not a bunch of Jewish myths cooked up around a campfire. This is the literal unfolding of God's detailed program - it all fits. Nothing is in the picture that doesn't belong there. After Canaan is cursed, Noah says in verses 26 & 27:
"And he said, `Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.'"
I've always been careful not to imply that through these three sons of Noah and because of the curse placed on the son of Ham that God has made some races inferior or others superior. We are going to see the whole human race coming from these three men and they are going to be different in their roles. I like to use the word "role" in more places than one. For example, in the game of football, the team's lineman has a different role than a running back, and a wide receiver has a totally different role from the quarterback. Some are on camera much more than others. But if you remove one of those team members, what happens? The people who are most visible can do nothing because each member of that team has to play out his role for the whole thing to work. It's the same way now with these three basic races of humanity - none is superior over the other, but each has its own particular role to fill.
What are the roles that God has stipulated? The offspring of Ham who, in the next chapter are predominately responsible for the building of the Tower of Babel, make their way to the land of Canaan. From Canaan we know there took place a migration south into southern Africa and southern Arabia, and they were probably the forebears of the Queen of Sheba. Then, from the Euphrates River we have the establishment of the offspring of another son of Noah, Shem. From the line of Shem we will follow predominately the man Abraham, who becomes the father of the Nation of Israel as well as the Arabs. So the Middle Eastern people are primarily the descendants of Shem. And then from the Tower of Babel, as they migrated up toward western Russia and Europe, we find the offspring of Japheth (the white race or Caucasians). The offspring of Japheth will migrate to Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain, western Russia and the northern coasts of the Mediterranean.
Reflect on human history. We know that from the Tower of Babel, some of the population moved toward the orient, China. From China, the Mongolians were probably the ones who migrated across the Pacific, becoming the forerunners of the American Indians. Never forget, those people had a tremendously advanced civilization. The Chinese were way ahead of the Caucasians when it came to materials such as silk and spices, to mathematics, and many other areas. So there is no superiority in the Caucasians over some of the other races, but the role they were assigned to play is different. When God said in verse 27 that He would enlarge Japheth, I believe we can see where it came about. Go to Acts 16. Until this time, the Caucasians or Japhethites were barbarians. Historically, when Rome was at the pinnacle of its power, it was overrun by the Gauls from the North who sacked Rome and burned it. They were the people of Europe. So these Japhethites had little impact on the human race until Acts 16. Paul had been spending time in Asia Minor - today's Turkey. Go to verse 6:
"Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,"
After being in Asia Minor, Paul had planned to go to the east, but the Holy Spirit stopped him and sent him west to Greece instead, and from thence the Gospel went to Europe and simply overwhelmed it. As the Gospel went over Europe, the people there were prompted by their convictions to go to America. We see now, in the last several hundred years how the Caucasian race has taken things that were lying dormant for so long and exploded them with their intellectualism and technology; yet I think the engine behind it was Christianity itself. Again, all of this ties together. Paul would have gone back to Asia but the Holy Spirit said, "No, I want you to go to Europe," and from Europe the Gospel came to us.
LESSON TWO * PART III
BABEL, "FALSE GODS"
Remember, we saw that after the flood, Noah and his family were given instructions to repopulate the earth and begin to cultivate it. Following our last session, one of my students mentioned to me that he had heard somewhere that prior to the flood there had been no fermentation. Nevertheless the Scriptures make it clear that the alcohol got the best of him and he became drunk. A sad commentary on all this is in verse 28 where it says:
"And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years."
Isn't it amazing that there is never another mention of Noah's activities after this drunken episode? The only reason I can give for this is that the catastrophe that occurred to him in verses 20-22 destroyed his testimony. We as believers have to be so careful. The devil is constantly out to trip us up and if we fall far enough, we can certainly lose our testimony. It doesn't take long, either! I think everyone, even in the secular world knows that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but it only takes a moment to destroy it. It can happen politically, in the business world, and even in Christian circles. I think perhaps this is the reason that Noah lost his influence. We're going to see in the moments that follow how the entire human race began to decline spiritually almost immediately after the flood, in spite of all the knowledge that Noah and his sons had concerning the will of God.
These were adult people who went into the ark; they had complete memory of everything that was before the flood. It would be just as if you and I found ourselves in the ark and when we came out following the flood, we'd remember all the technology that we had enjoyed, all the things that were on the earth before the catastrophe. So it was with Noah and his family. These eight people had complete recollection, and it was only the grace of God that kept things from moving along too fast and kept technology from erupting again until God was ready for it to do so, as we've seen in the last eighty or ninety years. So these three sons of Noah, who with their wives came out of the ark, became the parents of the three great classifications of people that then overspread the earth. You might break it down this way:
1. Out of the line of Shem came all the great "religions" (although I don't like that word), Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. When I refer to the line of Shem, the primary man is Abraham.
2. Out of the line of Ham we have a lot of the original discoveries and inventions as we'll see in Chapter 12.
3. Out of the line of Japheth, even though they were primarily uncivilized barbarians, came a people that became expert in the arts, sciences, music (the Beethoven's and Tchaikovsky's), and the inventors of the industrial revolution (not taking credit away from contributions made by Oriental immigrants who came to America).
Come back to the migrations of the peoples as the Bible lays them out, and as we illustrated last time. The Japhethites migrated into what is present day Europe and western Russia; the Hamites ended up primarily in the land of Canaan and points south; and the sons of Shem populated the lands of the Middle East. I also prefer to put the oriental peoples in the line of Shem (although I may be wrong in that). Those three basic groups of people come from these three sons of Noah. Let's go to Chapter 10. We won't examine this chapter verse by verse, but I want you to see that the sons of Japheth are mentioned in verses 2 through 5. In verse 6 we have the genealogy of the Hamitic people:
"And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."
Then, it's important that you look at verses 8 and 9:
"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, `Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."
Keep this fact in mind because we're going to be talking about Nimrod for the next few moments. He was the son of Cush who was the son of Ham. However, to keep moving genealogically through the chapter, go down to verse 21. There we pick up Shem's offspring. Out of the line of Shem we'll come to the family of Abraham in the last part of Chapter 11. Terah, the father of Abraham came out of the line of Shem. Also in those verses is something I think is very interesting (though there is no way for me to prove it) in Chapter 10, verse 25:
"And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days was the earth divided, and his brother's name was Joktan."
What I'm referring to is the so-called "theory of the continental drift." It states that the continents of the world were at one time together in one land mass. If you look at a map today, you'll see that with some effort and imagination the earth's continents could be fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. For instance, the eastern coast of South America could easily be matched to the western coast of Africa. I'm not saying this is true, but I am saying it is possible that the continents drifted apart and wound up as we now know them, and if they did, it was during the lifetime of Peleg, for it was during his lifetime that the earth was divided.
(11c) What does the Bible say about false religions and horoscopes ?
Book 3 LESSON TWO * PART III
"And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, "Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, `Go to, let us build a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
Again, I have to feel that this was all done at the instigation of Semiramis and under satanic influence. Logically, these people knew that they didn't have Jack's beanstalk. They knew they couldn't build a literal tower into the very throne room of Heaven, but what they were instituting here was a false, anti-god, ungodly system of worship whereby Satan inspired them to think they could usurp the very heavens of God Himself. This is nothing new to Satan. He has thought it before and still thinks today that he is going to defeat God in His purposes. They built this tower, not as something high through which they can walk to enter Heaven, but rather as a system of approach to Heaven, and hence it was the introduction to false worship. As we go through the Scriptures, we will continually refer to the fact that every false religion on this planet today no matter what it is or where, has its roots at the Tower of Babel. This is the beginning of false pagan worship.
Archaeologists have found that at the top of the Tower of Babel were all twelve signs of the zodiac. I maintain that today the horoscopes and the signs of the zodiac are of the underworld, the occult and should be left alone. Again, this is another way that Satan has adulterated something that was originally in God's program. I believe that before the flood, Adam and the early believers understood the Word of God, not from the written page, but from the stars. They had an intrinsic knowledge of the constellations and all these things - but as the Word of God written in the stars. However, as the human race degenerated, Satan took that which was spiritually perfect, adulterated it, and turned it to his own purposes, so that when we get to the Tower of Babel, this knowledge of the stars is turned into something that we call now, the occult. The horoscope and everything associated with it is not of God, but is of the counterfeiter, the Adversary. Remember, every false religion that ever has been, that is now, or that will come in the future, has its roots in the Tower of Babel.
Consequently, we haven't left Babel behind. Go to Revelation 17, where John deals with the false worldwide religion that is going to come on the scene during the final seven years of tribulation. This is written in symbolic imagery, but it certainly portrays a literal truth. John sees this woman, symbolic of the world-wide religious system, arrayed in purple and scarlet colors and decked with gold, precious stones and pearls which speak of tremendous wealth. If you look at the religions in the world today, the cults and false teachers draw in tremendous wealth daily, and ultimately they're going to come together to amalgamate all this wealth. This is what John sees symbolically.
"And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:" I maintain that this was not a physical fornication, but a spiritual one, an adulterating of spiritual things which God hates. Verse 5:
"And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
Clear back here in Revelation we find it - we haven't left Babylon behind, not by any means. Here it is, a great religious system coming on the scene, and all this is already here. We're seeing it grow by leaps and bounds in the New Age Movement. I warn people constantly that it's creeping into the churches and it sounds so good, but it's Babylon - it's Babel.
(12c) What is the origin of the customs and traditions associated with Christmas, Easter, and April Fool's Day ?
Book 3 LESSON TWO * PART IV
BABEL, "FALSE GODS"
Turn to Genesis 11 and we'll touch on some things from our last lesson - things related to the Tower of Babel. Some of the customs and traditions that are still with us today have been with us so long we don't even know where they originated. For example, everyone is familiar with the Easter egg hunts that we have on Easter, and the Easter bunny; Santa Claus at Christmas and the Christmas tree; and every one of these things got its start at the Tower of Babel! As pagan worship was instituted in conjunction with the Tower of Babel, the first thing Semiramis started was the idea that her son, Tamar, was a son of god. We are coming full circle today! The more you understand Genesis the more you can understand what is taking place today. They weren't satisfied with just the male god figure, so they introduced female "goddesses," which became the very core of the mythologies of ancient Rome, Egypt, Greece and Babylon. And it didn't stop there!
Along with the worship of the female goddesses such as Venus and Diana, came the fertility rites - sexuality. As a part of the pagan worship, the ancient temples such as the one of Ephesus dedicated to Diana and those of other goddesses, were nothing but glorified houses of prostitution done in the name of religion. This all went hand-in-hand with pagan worship. And in the fertility rites, they went back to nature. As one approaches the spring equinox, March 21 and 22, there is new life coming up all around, and that new life speaks of fertility. So when they put all this together, they formed their fertility rites around the worship-center of the spring equinox. Again, Satan was becoming the great counterfeiter because whether he had foreknowledge of what he was doing or not, also associated with the spring equinox would be our celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
Of course our Easter is timed according to the Passover of Israel as given in the Old Testament, and all of the Israeli feasts and time keeping was based on the moon's phases - either the new moon or the full moon. So way back at the Tower of Babel, they instituted the fertility rites in association with the spring equinox, and thereby we have the rabbit and eggs associated with our Easter, supposedly indicative of new life. But remember, it's pagan in its origin.
It's the same way with our customs at Christmas which is close to the first day of winter - the winter solstice of December 21 and 22. Again the ancient pagans instituted the worship of the evergreen tree because it, alone was still showing signs of life when everything else looked dead. The ancient Europeans actually began worshipping the evergreen tree and had the custom of the burning of the "Yule log" - all coming out of this pagan system associated with the Tower of Babel. Back in the early days, during the first, second and third centuries a lot of these pagan people were coming into the "church." However they came into the church without having a genuine Salvation experience, and merely came to enjoy the worship service. So it wasn't long before they began introducing some of their pagan practices into the church and the church accommodated them, so here we are some 1900 years later and we take these things for granted. I want you to know where they come from, for they have no place in our present day church.
I'm not telling people to throw away the Christmas tree (we have one), or to spoil Christmas and tell your kids that there's no such thing as Santa Claus, (maybe I should!), but I'll tell you this, anytime I see a Santa Claus going down the aisle of a church I won't go back there, because Santa Claus does not belong in a local church. He is a symbol of paganism, a symbol of the commercial world, and we should never mix it in with Christianity. Now, as I said before, I'm not telling people to take away the fun of Santa Claus as long as they don't associate it with the birth of Christ. Also, I don't think that Christ was born on or around December 25. We know that He wasn't born in the winter time because the shepherds don't stay out in the fields in Judea in December - it's too cold! (Again, I just pass this out in speculation, because I can't prove it from Scripture), but I personally think that April 1 would really more likely be the time of His birth.
I read one theory - and that's all it is, because nobody really knows when He was born - and that person speculated that Jesus was born in September, and the December 25th date was more likely the time of His conception. This would bring His birthday into September Ö And he may be right. The reason that I think April 1 would be the more likely date is that I believe Adam was created and brought on the scene on April 1st. God stipulated to Israel that April was to be the first month of the year, so everything in Israel's calendar back in biblical times began with April 1st. I think that Christ was probably resurrected on an April 1st, also. Like I said, I can't prove any of this, but I think there are a lot of things associated in God's time table with the first day of the month of the biblical year - the month of April.
In addition, to kind of put the frosting on the cake, I think that Satan adulterated that day, April 1, with what we now call "April Fool's Day," or "All Fool's Day," which again came out of the occult practices and not from Scripture.
(13c) What does the Bible say about capital punishment ?
Book 3 LESSON TWO * PART I
"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
That puts man head and shoulders over anything else in creation, because we were created in God's image and God so ordained that the life of His created man is in the blood. This carries through in all the animals and birds, also; but God puts the stipulation on the life of a human being as not being cheap, but rather, of intrinsic value to God. There are many areas of the world where life is cheap; where they think nothing of killing people by the hundreds and thousands. We've witnessed it profusely in the last several years - First, in Far East in the killing fields of Cambodia and Vietnam, and more recently in the Middle East. It is nothing new to the human race, but it is not the way that God ordained it. He declared that man was to be of intrinsic value, his life was not to be taken lightly, and if someone did take the life of a fellow human being, the stipulation was that the murderer was to be put to death by his fellow man. We call this, in the vernacular of Bible study, the instigation or the beginning of human government. In other words, before the flood, man didn't have the authority from God to control behavior by capital punishment or by incarceration in jail, or anything else. But, at this point, God designed that man would have authority over his fellow man (under God) and if a man were guilty of murder or some other crime, then the authority of human government was to take that person and deal with him accordingly.
"Capital punishment" has never been rescinded throughout Scripture. There are some things that have changed, but this still stands as God's law for the human race. Mankind, particularly sociologists, who hear me state this will probably "go into orbit;" they try to tell us that capital punishment is barbarian and is not fit for a civilized society. But, what is causing many of our problems? Why is crime increasing every day? I recently read in the Tulsa World that crime last year increased by 27%. It is doing so because we are not deterring it by a severe enough punishment. Let's look back at the New Testament, to Romans 13, again to compare Scripture with Scripture. Paul, writing to the Church in Rome, in particular; and the Church through the ages, in general, is laying out so clearly the role of government. We are blessed in America, and think that we have the best government in the world, but it has its weaknesses and problems. Even though it may be the best the world has ever seen, we're not to take advantage of it, but to recognize what a blessing good government is. Verse 1:
"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
"The Higher Powers" refer to government - the authority over us. God gives that power to rule us to the government. Even to a Saddam Hussein?!! Yes, ordained to them, too. Personally, I believe that this "Operation Desert Storm" war that has just ended might very well have been a fulfillment of Jeremiah 50 and 51, where the prophet describes the total annihilation of the nation of Babylon (which Saddam Hussein claims Iraq is).
Even Hitler was ordained of God! I've always said that the German people got just exactly what they deserved. Now, horror of horrors, I heard on the news recently, that there are now video games circulating among the young people of Europe, in which the role of the game player is the head of a concentration camp and the `point' of the game, is for him to put his subjects to death and cause them to suffer - the worse the prisoners suffer, the higher the player scores. This is simply preparing the world for the awful things that are to come upon human society. Nevertheless, the governments have been ordained of God for the good of Christian people. Many times they do not fulfill that calling, but as I said earlier, nations get what they deserve! If someday we loose our beautiful, democratic way of living, it will probably be because we've brought it upon ourselves. Paul continues:
"Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil."
Whoever resists his local government, resists the plan of God! Whenever you meet a policeman, you shouldn't fear him (if you are a law-abiding citizen), but rather enjoy the sense of security that he is there to protect you. But, if you are a lawbreaker, you should feel terror, because God has ordained that he bring you to justice. We've lost that! Our young people have lost all respect for authority. Criminals know that statistics show that 70% of them can get out of jail within eight months of their conviction, so they have no fear of the authorities. The only thing that holds the fabric of society together, is a healthy fear and respect for the law - human government. Go back now to Genesis 9. As we see in verses 5 and 6, human government was established to maintain law and order, to protect the lives of the citizens; and in order to deter crime - murder in particular - God instituted capital punishment.
Any nation that practiced capital punishment in the past had a relatively low crime rate until they abolished it. One of the most visible examples of this is the nation of France. Until sometime in the 1970's, France still used the guillotine to execute murderers. They had so few murders in France each year that you could practically number them on one hand, But, Ö "society" said, "that's barbaric, it's a holdover from the dark ages," and so capital punishment there was abolished. Immediately, their murder rate skyrocketed like that of other nations without capital punishment. I am convinced that capital punishment is a legitimate deterrent to murder and major crime. We see so clearly in Genesis 9, what the Word of God says in this regard. The Word is true! I make no apology for it. The stipulation is made in verses 5 and 6:
"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
This is why life is precious, and we're not to take it lightly or to make of it something cheap!
(14c) What was the purpose of circumcision ?
Book 4 LESSON THREE * PART I
"And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee."
Here is an interesting tidbit. It used to bother me how you could determine when the word seed was referring to the children in generations, or when it was referring to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15, which we know is Christ. It has been hard to determine. The word seed in the Hebrew is the word "zera." It is like our word sheep. Now our word sheep, whether it is singular or plural, is still sheep. It is the same with this Hebrew word "zera." The only way you can determine if it is singular or plural is by how it sets in the text. It is the same with our word sheep. If you were reading a sentence which talked about a flock of sheep covering the mountainside, you would immediately know the word is not singular, but plural. On the other hand, if you were shown a picture of someone shearing a sheep, by context what do you know? - that we are talking about `one.' Whenever the context refers to a vast number of people who are Abraham's seed, we are not talking about Christ, but about the generations of Israel. Turn with me to Chapter 21 where we will see the singular use of the word.
"And God said unto Abraham, `Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac (one person) shall thy seed (singular) be called.'"
Turn to Galatians, Chapter 3. I want you to be mindful of Genesis 3:15 (without having you turn there), where as soon as Adam and Eve had fallen, God made the prophetic promise that the seed of the woman would be the Redeemer and the One who would make the way back to God possible. Now in Galatians, Paul writes:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds (plural), as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed (singular), which is Christ."
Is it falling into place? In the Old Testament whenever we have the singular approach to the seed of the woman, it speaks of Christ; but when the plural is used with the generations following Abraham, then that is what it's referring to. Back to Genesis 17:
"And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed (plural) after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
They can say what they want about God being through with the Nation of Israel, and about God transferring the promises made to Israel to the Church. But that flies in the face of what the Scripture says. The Bible plainly teaches that no matter what the Israelite or Jew may do, God is still going to maintain the Covenant He made with Abraham clear back in 2000 BC If you are watching the Middle Eastern situation with an open mind, you realize the present day Jew is still the offspring of Abraham. Although we are not yet into the Jewish aspect of the Tribulation, etc., it is all coming. Everything in the Middle East is setting the stage for when the curtain will rise, and God will again pick up where He left off with His Nation of Israel back in the Book of Acts.
"And God said unto Abraham, `Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations (again we are talking about the line of people). This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.'"
Remember this is years after that original Covenant. This is even some time after that Deed we saw in Chapter 15. But now God is going to, you might say, cement this whole thing with a blood Covenant. I think that is the best way we can look at it. Have you ever watched movies of the ancients where they made a covenant with one another? They would take a knife blade and put a little slit in each hand. They would then shake hands and literally mix their blood; it was a blood covenant. I think this is the whole aspect of the institution of circumcision. God now has a blood Covenant with the Nation of Israel, or the children of Abraham. So Abraham was given all the instructions of how circumcision was to be instituted even though he, himself, was ninety-nine. From then on, every child of Abraham was to be circumcised at the age of eight days.
I believe medical science will back me up that an infant's blood coagulation reaches its peak at the age of eight days. In this present day we get our young mothers in and out of the hospital so quickly, that circumcision is accomplished before the child reaches eight days. When my mother gave birth to my little sister, the hospital stay for delivery was fourteen days. That gave the doctors ample time to circumcise the boy babies at eight days of age. This is all Scriptural.
Book 41 LESSON Two * Part III
The Uncircumcision. That was the Jewish term for a non-Jew. He was the Uncircumcised. And a lot of times they would add the word, "dogs." "Uncircumcised Dogs" is what they thought of Gentiles. Now, Iím going to give you one more. Come back a few more pages to Galatians chapter 2 and verse 7.
"But contrariwise, when they(the leadership of the Jerusalem Jewish assembly) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;"
Now how many classes of people do you have? Two! Paul and Barnabas were the apostles of the uncircumcision or the Gentiles. Peter, on the other hand, and James and John and the other of the disciples, were the apostles of the circumcision, or Israel. I could stand here for another hour on that alone. Why do you suppose Jesus chose the twelve inside of Israel? Because they were to be the apostles of Israel. Thatís why He told them not to go to the Gentiles in Matthew 10:5. Why do you supposed He chose the apostle Paul outside of Israel? Because he was to be the apostle to the Gentiles. And so all of this just fits together. But what Iím trying to show you here is the terminology, the uncircumcision, is the non-Jewish world of which you and I are a part. The circumcision was the Jewish world. Now, letís go back to Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 11. Iím almost sure Iím not going to finish these two verses in this half hour.
"Ö.who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made hands."In other words, the Jew would refer to the Gentiles as uncircumcised. Now letís go to verse 12.
"That at that time(while God was dealing with the circumcision, Israel) ye (uncircumcision, Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
That was the lot of the Gentile world. Because God was dealing with Israel. But the day came when Israel rejected everything and God turned to the Gentile world through this apostle. Now, come back to Colossians chapter 2 and Iím going to try and take this slow enough that I donít leave everybody totally confused. But now letís look at Colossians chapter 2 and verse 13.
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,Ö."
Now you tie the two together. Why were they dead in their sins? Because they were outside the covenants of Israel, outside the citizenship, they were Gentiles. And so this is what Paul is saying Ė This was our past. We were dead spiritually, mostly because we were Gentiles and were outside the covenant promises. And so as the uncircumcised physically, we were dead spiritually but what has God done? Heís quickened us. Heís made us alive. What has happened? Come up to verse 11 and Iíll leave this half hour in total confusion, Iím afraid.
"In whom(Christ) also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,Ö."
What is he talking about? A spiritual circumcision with which the flesh had nothing to do with. Now, I guess the Lord must have instituted circumcision in the flesh knowing that the day would come when it would be the perfect example of spiritual circumcision. And this is what weíre going to see in these two verses. Iím not going to finish it in this half hour, I know I canít. So now then, we who in the flesh, uncircumcised, in the spirit we are circumcised, not the fleshly circumcision, but a spiritual one. I hope I can put it on the board in the next half hour and clarify it. And that simply means that God has done something spiritually that was a good example of that which practiced in Israel physically. And that was cutting off that which is superfluous or no longer needful. Thatís the whole concept.
Now for you and I as believers, what did God cut off that was now superfluous? The old Adam! The old Adam has been cut off. Itís been crucified with Christ and weíll pick it up in our next half hour so hang by a string if you can. But anyway this is the whole idea of these two verses Ė that yes, in the flesh weíre uncircumcised, weíre Gentiles. But spiritually weíve been circumcised by virtue of the old Adam being crucified with Christ, cut off, and is no longer something that we have to deal with as far as eternity is concerned because it has been done by God Himself.
Book 41 LESSON Two * Part IV
Now back to where we left off in Colossians chapter 2. You know I didnít finish my thoughts in the two verses 11 and 13 dealing with circumcision and our being dead in sins, but now we are circumcised Spiritually and weíve been made alive Spiritually. So come back with me to verse 11 and 13 and letís read verse 13 again first.
"And you being dead in your sins(a Spiritual death) and the uncircumcision of your flesh, (thatís where we were genetically. Weíre not in the family of Abraham, but rather we were Gentiles) hath he (God) quickened (or made us alive) together with him, (which of course ties us to His death, burial, and resurrection. And the moment we beloved that Gospel of Salvation, God forgave us.) having forgiven you all trespasses:" Now weíll come back to forgiveness a little later, but for now letís also look at verse 11.
"In whom(Christ Who is the fullness of the Godhead of verse 9) also ye are circumcised (now we are circumcised, not in the flesh, but Spiritually) with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh (remember circumcision depicts a cutting off of that which was superfluous. So for the believer now we have had something cut off which is no longer necessary and it is the old Adam.) by the circumcision of (or by) Christ:"
(15c) What is the Gospel that will be preached during the tribulation ?
Book 12 LESSON ONE * PART I
ANTI-CHRIST - "FALSE PROPHET"
Turn to Revelation 7. The Book of Revelation primarily deals with those final seven years before the return of Christ at His Second Coming; then the setting up of His Kingdom upon the earth. This seven years is primarily God dealing with the Nation of Israel; however, all the world will become involved. Remember Jeremiah 30:7?
"Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it."
We'll look at this verse more in detail later. It's God dealing with His Covenant people and for this reason they are still coming back to their homeland, getting ready for these final seven years.
The best way to study Revelation is not to try to take it chronologically, but find the events at the beginning, at the middle, and at the end of the Tribulation, and then fill in the gaps. Chronologically it won't make all that much sense to you. The past several lessons we have been looking at things at the beginning. 1. The appearance of the Anti-christ when he will sign that seven-year peace treaty with the Nation of Israel, which will again kick God's time clock back in gear, as it has been stopped now all during the Church Age. 2. The appearance of those two witnesses. They will come to the Nation of Israel in Jerusalem. And they will begin proclaiming God's Word to the Nation of Israel, and out of the ministry of these two... 3. God is going to seal and commission the 144,000 young Jewish men whom God will use to circumvent the globe. They won't be preaching the Gospel of Grace as we know it, but, rather, they will be reverting back again to the Gospel of the Kingdom as it was being proclaimed at the time of Christ and Peter and the eleven.
There is a vast difference between the Gospel of Grace and the Gospel of the Kingdom. When you understand that, the Bible is much less confusing. At that time, the Age of Grace has ended and the Church is gone. A person will no longer have the opportunity to join a local congregation. But rather these 144,000 will be telling the world that the King is coming. After all, that was the message in Christ's earthly ministry. He Himself referred to it more than once as the Gospel of the Kingdom. The King and His Kingdom were about to come on the scene. Of course Israel rejected that, and the King was crucified. God raised Him from the dead, called Him back to heaven to sit at the Father's right hand until His enemies should be made His footstool. That `until' signifies the time when He will once again deal with His Covenant people of Israel.
Book 10 LESSON THREE * PART IV
"And this gospel of the kingdom..."
This Gospel of the Kingdom. Not the Gospel of Grace. We preach today the Gospel of Grace that you must believe for your salvation, that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead. Jesus Himself revealed that to the Apostle Paul, and Paul alone, in I Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 10:9-10 and many other places in Paul's writing. But Jesus and the twelve preached the Gospel of the Kingdom which is believing for salvation that Jesus was the Messiah, repentance, and baptism. This is found in Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38 and many other Scriptures in the four Gospels and the Book of Acts through at least Chapter 15. So this gospel of the Kingdom:
"...shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
Isn't that plain? But you have to know which Gospel. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:7-9 that there were two Gospels, one that he (Paul) preached to the Gentiles (uncircumcision) by revelation from Jesus Christ. And the other that John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the 12 preached to the Jews or Nation of Israel (circumcision). So as you study, notice who is speaking and who is being spoken to.
Book 11 LESSON THREE * PART III
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall (at a future time.) be preached in all the world for a witness unto (how many?) all nations; and then shall the end come."
Now, you see how simple that is when you put it in the right prospective. I've had good friends of mine lift this verse out of context, and say we have to get the Gospel into every nation before the Lord can come. That's not what Jesus was talking about. The Gospel of Grace is a calling out a people for His Name, absolutely. But it's going to end, and the Tribulation is going to come in and then Jesus said, "The same Gospel of the Kingdom that He preached in His three years of ministry will be proclaimed again during the Tribulation." Now can you keep that? Put that up here. Just stop and think. If that Good News is proclaimed to every nation on earth, that the King is coming, it will last for the whole seven years. Notice Jesus did not mention the Church Age and the Gospel of Grace. He skips over it from His ministry to the Tribulation. And that will be the message that the 144,000 young Jewish men will preach to the world. The King is coming, and indeed He will be!
Editor's Note: After the rapture takes place, the Age of Grace will have ended. Then during the tribulation, the 144,000 young Jewish men will be teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. The message will be that the Kingdom is at hand and the Messiah, the King, is coming, as it was prophesied. Therefore, repent of your sins and be baptized with water.
(16c) Is the gift of tongues for the Church today ?
Book 28 LESSON TWO * PART IV
ETERNAL EXCELLENCE OF LOVE
I CORINTHIANS 12:1 - 14:3
As we continue in I Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul has been explaining that the Body of Christ, that invisible make-up of all believers from wherever they are on the planet, and of whatever background, every true child of God becomes a member then of that Body of Christ. And that is a revelation that was given only to the Apostle Paul, because you do not see the Body of Christ taught until Paul comes and shares the revelations that he got from the ascended Lord. And that is what we'll be emphasizing in Chapter 15; a chapter about the resurrection. You see the resurrection of Christ was at the core of all of Paul's preaching.
But here Paul has been addressing problems because the Church was still so carnal, they had not grown spiritually. Now it's interesting that of all the things he has dealt with in Corinthians from Chapter 1, where they had divisions of whom they were following, and going to court against each other, and the problem of immorality in the Church, he also had to deal with the tongues phenomenon, which it had also become a problem. He does not address it as some aspect of their spirituality, because it had become a problem. It had upset the function of the local Church, and they were causing disorder, and he has to address it. So all these things had been in answer to questions that they had written to Paul requesting some answers. Tongues were unique in the Corinthian Church, and this is what I can't get over in my own study, as we never see again in any of his other churches tongues even mentioned. We only find tongues at this carnal Church at Corinth, and that should tell us something.
But for now let's get back to where we left off, and here Paul is dealing with the Body of Christ which is composed of people who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Now that Holy Spirit baptism is not an emotional phenomenon, or a physical thing, because you or I never felt a thing, or didn't know anything had happened when the Holy Spirit baptized us into the Body. We know it happened only because the Book says so, and that's the only way we know that we were placed into the Body of Christ, and we have to leave it at that. We don't try to look for some emotional thing or feeling. I've told people so often that word feeling is not used in the Scriptures. We take these things by faith, and not by feeling. Now let's look at verse 23:
I Corinthians 12:23
"And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, (remember in the last lesson I used the little toe as an example. It's very seldom seen, and we probably think it's totally useless until you lose it, because if you lose your little toe it inhibits walking, and balance. It may be the place of less honor, but it is still important, so also are the less noticed, and less honored members of the Body of Christ.) upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness." In other words, that's just the way that God works. He takes the foolish things of this world and confounds the wise. He says in another place in I Corinthians that He took the things that are not, to confound the things that are, and it's basically on this same premise.
I Corinthians 1:27
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" Now let's look at verse 24:
I Corinthians 12:24
"For our comely parts (the best part of our appearance) have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:"
Isn't that amazing? As I was studying this I couldn't help but think of parents who have had a retarded child, maybe even the Down Syndrome child. We've talked to several who have had this kind of child and even though they had several children, the Down Syndrome child was always the most responsive. That was the child that they poured their love to in such a very special way, and every parent that has one will tell you that same thing. They are the most lovable, and the most easy to love of all children. Well I think Paul is saying the same thing here, we take the weakest believer, the one that the world would think, "Well, the Church certainly can't use that person." But that's the very one that God wants us to enhance, and to bring them to the forefront. Now verse 25, all of these things are for one purpose.
I Corinthians 12:25,26
"That there should be no schism (or division) in the body; (That is the Body of Christ) but that the members should have the same care one for another." In other words, every believer in God's eyes deserves the same amount of love and compassion as the next one.
"And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it;...
And again he's going to use the analogy of the human body and what is it? You hit your thumb with a hammer, and the whole body is shot with pain. It's the same way with the Body of Christ, if a believer is hurt, then the whole Body hurts with it. Now verse 27.
I Corinthians 12:27
"Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
As an individual, we don't just come into the Body of Christ as a number, but every one of us is an individual in God's sight, whom He knows. And He knows our every need, and He knows our every heartache and joy. So many times Christians pray, and we think, "Oh it's just another sound to God." No it's not! It's just as if you are the only one in the throne room with Him, and that's the kind of God we serve. Now verse 28, and again here's the list that he has in Corinthians compared with the one we saw in the Book of Ephesians.
I Corinthians 12:28-31
"And God hath set some in the church, (that is the local Church) first apostles, (we know they went off the scene) secondarily prophets, (we know that has left, because we now have the printed Word) thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, (or administrations) diversities (the ability to speak more then one language, and that's what the word tongues in the plural always implies; it was known languages, and they were able to communicate the Gospel to those of a different language.) of tongues."
"Are all apostles? (of course not, the Church would get lopsided.) Are all prophets? (No) are all teachers? (No) are all workers of miracles? (Of course not) Have all the gifts of healing? (No) do all speak with tongues? (absolutely not) do all interpret? (No) But covet (or desire) earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
And that's why I taught Chapter 13 first, because all of this, even to be an apostle, even to be a gifted man, at especially in the Church at Corinth, if they didn't exhibit the love of God in what they were doing, then they were better off staying at home. Just don't even do it, if you can't do it in that attitude of love. Now since we've covered Chapter 13, let's go right on over to Chapter 14.
I Corinthians 14:1
"Follow after charity, (love) and desire spiritual gifts, (don't request them specifically; ask the Lord to use you) but rather that ye may prophesy."
Now remember the word `prophesy' is not being able to tell the future as we think of Daniel or Isaiah, but to simply speak the Word of God. Share the Word, that's what it is to prophesy, and that's what every believer should desire. "Lord give me that ability to just share your Word with people, whether it's believers who need to be taught, or the unbeliever who is still out there in darkness, Lord give us that opportunity to speak forth the Word. " Now verse 2 which reads:
I Corinthians 14:2
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue (Now watch the language here because the word "unknown" is italicized. So it's been added by the translators, because even way back at the time of the King James translators, they really didn't know how to handle this word tongue in the singular, because, like I explained in an earlier lesson, this denoted a sound that had no phonetics to it. It could not be reduced to writings, it was just a guttural sound , and had no pronunciation.) speaketh not unto men, but unto God: (because only God could understand it) for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit (Now it's a small s so it's not the Holy Spirit, but in his mind and his own thinking processes) he speaketh mysteries."
Those things are beyond the ordinary human comprehension. Now before we go any further, come back to what we just read: that the person speaking in this so-called "unknown" tongue, or in this unwritten tongue, was speaking to God. Let's go back to the three times in Scripture when the Holy Spirit delegated this miracle of speaking in tongues to men, and there are only three times. The first is in Acts Chapter 2, and here is our first example of the gift of speaking in tongues, but it's plural so it's languages, and of course it's back when God was still dealing with the Nation of Israel. And here it was on the day of Pentecost. I've always maintained that Pentecost was a Jewish feast day, and Gentiles had nothing to do with Pentecost.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,..."
Other languages, because there were Jews there from all over the then-known world all speaking different languages. Now the miracle of Pentecost was that God gave these apostles for sure this gift to speak all the languages of the people that were out there in that massive crowd in front of them. And then you come down to verse 6:
"Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language."
This is the first time in Scripture that we have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit given to men - this gift of speaking known languages, but which was not intrinsic to their own education. In other words, where did Peter and most of the disciples come from? Galilee. They were uneducated fishermen, and all of a sudden here they are speaking the various languages that were evident there on the day of Pentecost. It was miraculous, and it was the work of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul said in I Corinthians, who were these men talking to? Other men, and what was the purpose? To bring them salvation. That's the whole purpose of this Book from cover to cover. The purpose is that mankind might hear the plan of salvation, and it was the same way at Pentecost. Peter and these other disciples were promoting the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus was the Christ, but they were doing it in languages that everyone could understand, so it had a divine purpose.
Now the next time this happens is in Acts Chapter 10. And Peter is now up in the house of a Gentile, the Roman, Cornelius. You all know the account, how that Peter, contrary to his own desires, is forced by God to go up to the house of Cornelius. And you remember the last thing Peter said as he goes through the door: "Cornelius, you know it is an unlawful thing for me, a Jew, to come into the house of another nation. But God has shown me." In other words, there was a distinct divine purpose in Peter coming up to the house of Cornelius. Now, as he is preaching and is probably expounding about Jesus of Nazareth, and how He had come to be Israel's Messiah and Redeemer and King, I imagine as Peter was laying all of this out, in the back of his mind he was thinking, "Why am I giving this to Gentiles?" He had no idea that there was something moving in God's purposes that He, God, was now going to go out to the Gentile world. He certainly was not aware that in the previous chapter (I don't know how many months previous to this, but not many), that God had saved Paul of Tarsus and had told him He was going to go to the Gentiles. I don't think Peter knew that yet. But here he is in this Gentile house of Cornelius and is proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus and the Twelve preached: that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, Repentance, and water baptism, which was in a different administration, and is completely different from the Gospel of Grace that was given to the Apostle Paul, and the Gospel that we believe for salvation. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) Now let's look at verses 44 and 45:
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word." Now you want to remember, this was in the confines of a gentlemen's house. This wasn't in a great coliseum. This was in the house of Cornelius, a Roman officer. But as Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on that house full of Gentiles. Verse 45.
"And they of the circumcision (these Jews) which believed (they were like Peter. They had recognized Jesus was the Christ) were astonished,...."
Now we pointed all this out when we taught the Book of Acts, that these Jews, six men who came with Peter for a total of seven, were just utterly astonished that these Gentiles were hearing a salvation message and believing it. Now in order for God to prove to these seven Jews that He was doing something totally different than had ever been done before, what does He do? He proves it with these Gentiles speaking other languages. Not just the Latin, in which they had grown and probably practiced. Maybe not even just Greek that they probably used in their military conversations, but now:
"....as many as came with Peter (these six Jews) because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (how did they know?) For they heard them (the Gentiles) speak with tongues (known languages) and magnify God..."
Were they talking to God? NO! They were talking to fellow men and they were magnifying God in the presence of these seven Jews, as well as the members of the house of Cornelius, and there is no manifestation of an unknown language here or a guttural sound. It was speaking languages. That's the second time that the Holy Spirit was manifested by giving the gift of speaking more language than they were normally living with. Now the third and last time that this happens in the whole of Acts is in Chapter 19. The first time it happened to Jews in Chapter 2 - strictly Jews. The second time it happens - to a whole house of Gentiles. Now the third time it happens it's another unique little group. Small in number, but they were representative of another larger group and we'll look at it here in Acts 19 and verse 1.
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: (where a church had been founded) and finding certain disciples, (we know they were Jews because he says they are) He said unto them, `Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?' And they said unto him, `We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.' And he said unto them, `Unto what then were ye baptized?' And they said, `Unto John's baptism.' (John the Baptist) Then said Paul, `John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, (that was to the Nation of Israel and John baptized in Jordan with the message of repentance) saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.' When they (these Twelve men) heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, (these twelve Jews) the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues (languages other than their own) and prophesied."
Now those are the only three times in the whole Book of Acts, in fact in all of Scripture, where the Holy Spirit manifested Himself by giving out the gift of speaking a multitude of languages. They were known languages. They were languages that could be understood if somebody happened to be in that same room with that same background. There was no need for interpreters. No emotional upheaval. This was just simply the working of the Holy Sprit to the third category of people that God would be dealing with in the Book of Acts. Remember what they were. Chapter 2 - with the Nation of Israel. Chapter 10 - with the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. Chapter 19 - with those who were in the transition. They were Jews who had been saved under John's baptism, but they had known nothing of Paul's Gospel and now the Body of Christ and these further revelations. And those three categories are the only ones that came under the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit to speak in languages other than the ones they normally practiced.
Now let's go back to Chapter 14 and remember that whenever the Holy Spirit was manifested in the Book of Acts, it was for a divine purpose and that was to prove something. It was to show Israel that God was now moving in the work of the Holy Spirit. It was to prove to the Jews in the house of the Gentiles that God was now saving Gentiles. It was manifested in these twelve Jews to show that there was now a change in the overall program. It was not longer based on John's baptism and Christ's earthly ministry. It was now based on that which followed the work of the Cross, His death, burial and resurrection.
I Corinthians 14:3
"But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." Paul said in verse 1 that the one that they should really long for is the gift of speaking the Word of God. That's the number one criteria and in verse 3 he re-emphasizes it again.
I Corinthians 14:3
"But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification. (to lift him up, support him) and exhortation (to encourage him. Every one of us need to be encouraged throughout our daily walk) and comfort."
Now we know that we're in this old world which is under the curse, and a lot of people are hurting. How can we best comfort them? By proclaiming to them the Word of God.
LESSON THREE * PART I
RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
I CORINTHIANS 14:4 - 15:19
Now let's open our Bibles to I Corinthians Chapter 14. And again, before I start teaching I would like to get into the background, because I'm finding out there are very few people who know the circumstances that surround a particular Book or Letter, so we should always know the circumstances, and that makes all the difference in understanding. Remember that Paul is writing to these weak, carnal, fleshly, believers that have just come out of abject immorality in Corinth. He's writing to correct them because they had so many problems. So the whole theme of I Corinthians is to correct problems, and this whole letter has to be studied in that light.
Also remember the reason, I think, the Holy Spirit prompted Paul to write the love chapter, which is Chapter 13, and to sandwich it in between 12 and 14, which are filled with problems. Chapter 13 was to soften his approach in order to prepare the ground. Because Paul realizes, as well as anybody, that the only way that you can bring people around to the truth is in the spirit of love, you don't slap them in the face with anger, or ridicule, and put them down as some kind of dummy, but in the spirit of love bring them around to the truth. So as we pick up our study in Chapter 14 don't lose sight of what he wrote in the love chapter. Remember love is still the greatest of all the things so far as God's dealing with mankind is concerned. Verse 1:
I Corinthians 14:1
"Follow after charity, (love) and desire spiritual gifts, (gifts is italicized, and personally I like to use the word `things' instead of gifts) but rather that ye may prophesy."
Remember the greatest spiritual thing at this time was to prophesy or to speak forth the Word of God, because at the time that Paul is writing to these early Churches there is still no New Testament written. The Four Gospels haven't been written and won't be written until many years after Paul's letters. His own letters have not gone out as the Word of God as yet. He certainly hasn't written to the Corinthian Church before, so you have to realize that these early primitive, apostolic Churches were experiencing their growth and reaching out into the pagan world without benefit of the written Word. Where would we be today if we didn't have the Book. I mean this is all that we have to go on, but they didn't have that so what did they have to depend on? Gifted men. And they had to be gifted to the point that they could now teach people the Pauline doctrines, and not that which was still coming out of the Old Testament, or there would have been pandemonium. So Paul realizes through the Holy Spirit that this was the most important thing a local Church could have, and that was men who could proclaim the truth of God's Word without benefit of having it in print. Now does that help? Paul said in Chapter 13 and verse 10 that the time would come when that gift would fade away. And it is no longer a valid gift, because now we have the printed page. Now of course to be a pastor or teacher it's still a gift, and it's delineated as such. But once the printed Scriptures came into being, Paul's letters come into the right format. Then we got the Four Gospels, and Book of Acts, and so forth, and our New Testament is complete, and now there is no need for that kind of gifted men.
I had an interesting phone call the other day, and ordinarily I wouldn't share something like this with you, but I imagine that if the gentlemen hears it may get his attention. And that phone call reminded me of gifted men who didn't have the Word of God, and he was such a kind, benevolent type or I would have hung up on him sooner than I did. At first I didn't get what he was driving at, but finally he came out and in so many words said, "Les, you're just like everybody else, you are teaching men's words, and I wish I could sit down with you and teach you what God has said." Well, the bells began to ring, and the red flag started to fly, and I said, "Wait a minute, what are you trying to tell me? That you are the only one who has received the revelation of the true Word of God?" He replied, "Yeah." I said, "I'm sorry, but this conversation is ended," and I hung up on him.
I had a note in the mail from him yesterday, and he couldn't figure out why I hung up. I didn't fly off the handle I just said, "You're way out in left field, why do you think I have the camera constantly putting the Scriptures on the screen!" I said that's the Word of God, not what someone like you has supposedly received, and this is what I'm constantly trying to drive into peoples' thinking - that it doesn't matter what I say or think, but rather what does the Book say? This is why I prefer the Word of God on the screen rather than myself, and we have to understand that, yes, in the early Church it did take men with that kind of a gift, but today we have the Word of God. And the Word is in such a format that anyone can understand it, and it can feed a hungry heart. So when Paul speaks of this gift of prophecy it was under a whole different set of circumstances than what we've got today.
I Corinthians 14:2a
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue..."
And we defined all that in our last lesson, and when you see the word "tongue" in these two chapters, 12 and 14, in the singular, and with the added word unknown italicized by the translators, it's talking about a bunch of sounds that cannot be reduced to print. They are not phonetic, there is no way anyone can write them down, it's just a bunch of noise. And Paul is going to make this so evident later through this chapter. But when you see the word "tongues" plural, then he's talking about languages. And even in the city of Corinth there were probably five or six languages being used constantly. There was Latin, Greek, Spanish, Hebrew, and Aramaic, so those languages made up the city of Corinth, and it all enters into the picture of these Chapters 12 and 14. Now here he's speaking of the tongues movement, it's an unknown language that no one can print, so this is why the translators call it an unknown tongue. Continuing on in verse 2:
I Corinthians 14:2
"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: (God is the only One who can make anything out of it if it were possible.) for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit (small "s" so that's man's spirit) he speaketh mysteries,"
And I mentioned this in the last letters about some of the pagan religions and their mysteries. And so Paul is saying here what they're doing is using their own make-up or personality, and they are speaking things that to anybody else is nothing but a mystery. Now verse 3:
I Corinthians 14:3,4
"But (the flip side) he that prophesieth (or speaketh forth the Word as a gifted individual) speaketh unto men to edification, (lift them up) and exhortation, and comfort." Now verse 4, and I'm not going to make a lot of comment, because the Book speaks for itself.
"He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth (and speaks forth the Word of God) edifieth the church."
When someone claims to have had a tongues experience, according to the Book, who are they edifying? Themselves. It's an ego trip, and that's what it amounts to. Now reading on in verse 5.
I Corinthians 14:5
"I would that ye all spake with tongues, (That's plural, which means languages. Paul is saying it would be nice if you could just go up into northern Greece, or other countries and speak the dialects that those people do. Today I'd say the same thing, and those of you who have kids out on the mission field know what I'm talking about. My, wouldn't it have been great if your son or daughter could have gone to the mission field, and picked up the language the next day? But instead they had to go to language school to learn the language before they went to the field. So Paul knew what he was talking about. He said, "It would be great if you all spoke several languages.") but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying."
Let's take that little congregation in Corinth, and let's say that most of them were able to understand Greek. Now there were probably some even in Corinth that couldn't understand Greek, all they could understand maybe was Hebrew or Aramaic. Paul says, "Now it would be great if you could come into this congregation and be able to teach and preach in a language that they could all understand." My, what a great gift that would be, because that's what people needed, they had to hear the Word, because they couldn't go home and read it.
I Corinthians 14:6
"Now. brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, (these different languages) what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?"
Those are the things that count. People even today need doctrine as very few professing believers today have a good solid understanding of doctrine. I've learned over the years that most Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, or just about any other denomination don't really know what they believe. And if you doubt that, just ask people what they really believe, and most of them can't tell you much. I say that sincerely, and this is what Paul is saying. Even the Corinthians were so weak in the fundamentals, but oh, they were emotional, they had a lot of enthusiasm, but that in itself is not enough. So Paul says:
I Corinthians 14:6b,7
"...except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine." What's the profit? Now verse 7.
"And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
What is the Apostle Paul is saying here? Unless somebody picks up an instrument that knows how to play, knows how to bring out the right tone at the right time within the score, what do you have? A bunch of noise. In fact I've been to a few concerts in my life, and especially if you go to a concert of a symphony orchestra, and before they lift the curtain what are those musicians doing back there? They're tuning their instruments at the same time and it's just a bunch of noise, there's no melody, or harmony, or anything worth listening to, you can't hardly wait till the curtain goes up and you can hear some real music. Well here, Paul is saying the same thing. Look at it again:
I Corinthians 14:7
And even things without life giving sound, (Musical instruments, when they're giving sound) whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, (The right note at the right place) how shall it be known what is piped or harped?"
How can you make a melody? How would you know what song they're playing? Well, you don't. Now verse 8, and Paul is using simple illustrations, and I really don't have to comment on them.
I Corinthians 14:8
"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"
Now you want to remember that the Romans used the trumpet for battle commands much like you have seen in the movies and like our American Calvary did with their riders and so forth. They had a particular trumpet sound for each command, and every soldier knew what it was. And it was the same way in the Roman army, when the trumpet was sounded they would know whether to retreat, attack, or whatever. And Paul is using that analogy here. Now what if the trumpeter didn't know his command? What if he was just blaring out a bunch of sounds, what would the poor troops do? They would just be looking at each other wondering what they were supposed to do. It would cause confusion. Now verse 9:
I Corinthians 14:9
"So likewise ye, (see how plain this is?) except ye utter by the tongue (this organ in your mouth) words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air."
Common sense? Yeah. In fact I've even given this illustration before: I remember years ago I was reading a book by one of the deep, deep theologians of that time, and I would just have to go back and read it over and over. I mean, it was just so hard to dig any of the truth out of it, because it was written in such complicated language. So one morning while Iris was fixing breakfast, and I was sitting at the table, and I had just read a paragraph to her, I said, "Honey, do you know anything that the guy is saying?" And she said, "No, what's he saying?" Well, I just spit it back out into plain, ordinary laymen's language, and then she said, "Oh, is that what he said?"
And this is what has happened across the whole spectrum. We've got men that are such theologians that they talk above the heads of the average individuals. And you know what I'm talking about. You pray with me that every time I teach that I can take these same truths and keep it so simple that a six-year-old can understand it. And this is what Paul is saying, what good does it do to come in with high-sounding intellectual statements if people don't know what you're talking about. The Word of God is simple, I explained just yesterday the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) to a man I'm sure had never heard it before. I put it in such simple language that I know he went down my driveway with no doubt what it would take to gain heaven. I don't know whether he will or not, but I tell you what, he's going to stand responsible someday, because I laid it out as plain and simple as it can be laid out. And this gentleman just stood there and said, "I've never heard that before." Of course not, most people haven't. Now verse 10:
I Corinthians 14:10
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification."
Do you know what Paul is talking about here? You go out even into the animal kingdom and what are sciences learning more and more everyday? That even the animals communicate one with another. Those of you who are quail hunters know if you flush out a covey, the first thing you hear is they start whistling. Iris and I were out fishing a while back, and our dog scared up a wild turkey, and she flew right over where we were fishing, and after a while we could hear her start to cluck, and her little ones who were back in the woods started to answer. What were they doing? Communicating. And those sounds weren't jibberish, those little turkeys knew exactly what momma was saying, and momma knew exactly what they were saying. And we've found that throughout the whole spectrum of the wild animal kingdom that they communicate. The same is true with sea creatures, they all communicate. Men, whatever the background, whether we're European, or Asiatic, we all communicate and this is what Paul is saying, and that's why God gave us that ability to communicate.
I Corinthians 14:11
"Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, (If I don't know what someone is saying) I shall be unto him that speaketh (like) a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me."
What's he talking about? He can't understand, and if that be the case what purpose is there in making a sound if it isn't going to communicate. So how much understanding will come between a barbarian, an uncivilized person, and a cultured man like Paul? Nothing!
I Corinthians 14:12
"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying (or promoting, or the lifting up) of the church." Not just one person or two, but the whole congregation.
I Corinthians 14:13
"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue (here's that singular again) pray that he may interpret." I know that to most of our tongues people, (and I'm not condemning them, because the last verse of this chapter says that he doesn't forbid it), unless this sound can be reduced to something understandable, you're beating the air. That's what this chapter is pointing out. Verse 13 again:
I Corinthians 14:13
"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret."
And for what purpose? To communicate. Otherwise it's just so much lost energy, and time. And we're going to see in our next lesson that it had gotten to the place even in Corinth where it was just causing commotion in the local congregation, and no one was being edified by it. So the whole purpose of this chapter is in the spirit of love to bring these people to a solid understanding.
LESSON THREE * PART II
RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
I CORINTHIANS 14:4 - 15:19
Now let's just jump right into where we left off in the last lesson and that would be verse 14, and here Paul is admonishing the Corinthians to take stock of what they were doing, and realize that all that glitters isn't gold. And that's all I'm saying, because I'm not condemning the folk who claim to have spoken in tongues, or I won't look down my nose at them, but all that I do ask everyone in the spirit of Chapter 13, the love chapter, is to analyze this whole thing in the light of what God wants, not what men want. You know we're living in that era of instant gratification regardless of what area of our life we may be looking at. But listen, we have to line everything up with the Word of God or we're on thin ice. And that's all I try to do. I don't try to browbeat people into everything the way I see it. You can disagree with me on things and that's fine, but on the other hand I think it's my responsibility, since the Lord has given me this avenue of teaching, that we show what the Word says. Now verse 14, and to me this is so plain, where Paul, now speaking in the first person says:
I Corinthians 14:14
"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, (there's that singular again, that sound that can't be reduced to a phonetic sound or to writing) my spirit ( small "s"- his own personality) prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful."
How much plainer can you get? Even for the individual, what good does it do, Paul says, to speak in a language that you don't know what you're talking about, and I know their answer, "Well, God does." But the Book doesn't say that He does. We know that God being Omnipotent, He certainly can if He wants to, but there is nothing in here that indicates that this is what God expects people to do.
I Corinthians 14:15
"What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, (Paul is saying, `I will pray from my innermost being. His own spirit - small `s') and I will pray with the understanding (Now how many of you would talk to God in prayer, whether it be in thanksgiving or supplication, or whatever thing you might have on your mind - what good would it do to talk to God in some language that you don't know what you're saying? Even if God is able to discern it, what if you can't? You don't know what you're asking for, and this is what Paul is pointing out. Whatever you do while communicating with God, do it in understanding.) also: I will sing with the spirit, (I know that sometimes we're too laid back. I know from Scripture that there were times when people sang and danced before the Lord, and there's nothing wrong with singing, or an exuberance in our Christian Spirit, absolutely nothing, but again, it has to be tempered with common sense.) and I will sing with the understanding also."
I Corinthians 14:16
"Else when thou shalt bless (That is the food) with the spirit, (small "s" - your being) how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say `A-men' at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
In other words, you're asking the blessing over a table around where many people are sitting, and if you supposedly pray in an unknown tongue how will the people around the table know when you're finished? Verse 17:
I Corinthians 14:17,18
"For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. (and then in verse 18 Paul makes a graphic statement) I thank my God, I speak with tongues (Plural - Languages) more than ye all:"
Now for years I've said this is what Paul is driving at, and now some of the great scholars are beginning to write it in their books. What's Paul saying? That when he went into some of these various areas and different tribes and dialects, and different languages, could he communicate? Yes. He had that special gift, Christianity was just getting off the ground, and he had this gift to speak whatever language was necessary. So here in verse 18 Paul is speaking of languages with which he could communicate the Gospel. Now verse 19:
I Corinthians 14:19,20
"Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice (And that's not a very nice word) be ye children, but in understanding (grow up and) be men." Do you see how plain all of this is? Now verse 21:
I Corinthians 14:21
"In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues (Languages) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.'"
Here Paul is quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy, and we're going to go back and look at it in Chapter 28: And naturally this is directed to the Children of Israel.
"The LORD shall bring a nation (of foreign people) against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand:"
Now here the tongue refers to their language. Whether it was the Babylonians that He was referring to or some other nation, there would come a time in Israel's history that a foreign nation would over-run them, invade them, and the Jews would have to listen to them talking in their language as they were being occupied. Do you see that? Now it wasn't an unknown tongue, but it was a language that the Jews wouldn't be able to understand. It was a warning, "Listen, you're going to have people in your midst that you're not going to like to have around, you're not going to be able to understand what they say, they're going to be foreigners." And so this is exactly what Paul is referring to now in I Corinthians when he says in verse 21 again:
I Corinthians 14:21,22
"In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues (or other languages) and other lips will I speak unto this people; (by occupying them) and yet for all that will they not hear me,' saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues (This ability to speak in languages) are for a sign,..."
To the Jew, and we find that in I Corinthians Chapter 1, and verse 22, and again, all we're going by is what the Book says.
I Corinthians 1:22
"For the Jews require a sign,..."
Now stop and think, how long has Israel been demanding signs? Well, it goes all the way back to when Moses was first called out of the desert, and even Moses the Jew did not believe that he was supposed to do what God wanted him to do. And so how did God prove it to him? He said, "Throw your shepherd rod on the ground." And you all know the account, and what happened? It became a serpent. Then the Lord said, "Pick it up," and it became a shepherd's rod again. What was God trying to show Moses? That He is in it. He is going to take him back to Pharaoh. And then Moses said, "Yeah, but when I get to Pharaoh he's not going to believe that I'm supposed to lead the children of Israel out." And what does God tell Moses and Aaron? The same thing: "You throw your rod down and it will become a serpent," and all these signs were not so much for Pharaoh's benefit, but rather for Moses' and Aaron's. To prove to those two men that God was going to do the supernatural. He's going to bring Israel out of Egypt. So all the way up through Israel's history you have the supernatural, and you come into Christ's earthly ministry, and I've taught it and I've taught it until I'm blue in the face. Why did Jesus perform miracle, after miracle? To prove to the Jew that He was Who He said He was. It was signs. And remember when we taught the Book of John there were seven miraculous signs, and every one of them had a whole train-load of truths for the Nation of Israel. They didn't mean that much to the Gentiles, but they meant everything to the Jew. And now Paul comes in even as he writes to a Gentile congregation and says:
I Corinthians 1:22,23a
"For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; (Now look at the flip side in verse 23) But we preach Christ crucified,..."
Do you see the difference? Now let's come back to Chapter 14, and again he comes back with that same concept that tongues, the ability to speak all the languages such as he had, were for a sign.
I Corinthians 14:22a
"Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but (the flip side) prophesying (being able to speak forth the Word before they had the New Testament)..."
So signs and all this is not going to accomplish all that much, but what will? Preaching the Word! This is what people need to hear today, people have to hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). They have to hear the plan of salvation, they don't have to see some kind of miracle, and I'm not condemning these people that can prove some miraculous manifestation. But they've got to prove it before I believe it. If they can prove it, then I'll say, "Yes, I know we have a God Who can perform miracles." I know God can heal miraculously, and I do not deny that. Now finishing verse 22:
I Corinthians 14:22b
"...prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe."
Now what's Paul talking about? To bring them growth in their Christian experience. To bring them so they wouldn't be blown about with every wind of doctrine. Well let's just sort of skim through these next few verses, and then I've got to deal with another hot potato in this day and time: "What about the women's activity in the local Church?" Well, we'll come to that in a few minutes, but before we get there let's skim verses 23 through 33.
I Corinthians 14:23
"If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, (languages) and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"
Do you know what the Greek root word for mad in the King James is? Maniac. That's where the word maniac came from. He says, "They'll come in off the street, look at you, and will say you're a bunch of maniacs, you're mad." Now verse 24.
I Corinthians 14:24-26
"But if all prophesy, (or speak forth the Word) and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: (Because he's hearing the Word of God, see the difference?) And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (if he can hear the Word) How is then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. (now if you had all that at once you'd have confusion) Let all things be done unto edifying." If you're wondering what he's driving at, verse 40 puts the cap on it.
I Corinthians 14:40
"Let all things be done decently and in order." That's what the Book says, it's not what I'm saying. The Book says, "Let all things be done decently and in order."
Copyright ã 2002 Les Feldick Ministries. All rights reserved.