Overview of Jesus’ Second Coming and Kingdom on Earth

May 27, 2018

     After His second coming, Jesus will rule the whole earth, from Jerusalem, on the throne of David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Mark 11:9-10), He will rule absolutely with “a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15), and His reign will be marked by righteousness and peace on the earth (Isa. 11:1-9). Also, we know from Scripture that the earthly kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6), and afterward will become an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44; 7:27; 1 Cor. 15:24). The word millennium is derived from the Latin words mille which means “thousand” and annum which means “year”. The word millennium translates the Greek word χίλιοι chilioi, which occurs six times in Revelation 20:1-6. The millennial kingdom will see Jesus seated on the throne of David, in Jerusalem, ruling over the world. He will rule the nations in righteousness, advocating for the poor and weak, as well as suppressing wickedness and rebellion (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15). Satan will be bound during the reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-3), and a new worship system will be implemented (see Ezekiel 40-46).

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Revelation 1:1-8

May 19, 2018

Revelation 1:1-8

The Revelation [ἀποκάλυψις apokalupsisto reveal, uncover, expose, make known] of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave Him [Jesus] to show to His bond-servants [for their benefit], the things which must shortly take place [ἐν τάχει en tacheispeed, swiftness, quickness]; and He [Jesus] sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John [revelation came several times by means of an angel; see Rev. 17:1; 19:9-10], 2 who bore witness [μαρτυρέω martureoto testify, bear witness] to the word of God [Scripture] and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he [singular] who reads and those [plural] who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it [cf. Rev. 22:7]; for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia [modern Turkey]: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come [Jesus Christ]; and from the seven Spirits [perhaps the Holy Spirit, Isa. 11:2; cf. Rev. 3:1; 4:5; 5:6] who are before His throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead [i.e. the first to be resurrected from the dead; see 1 Cor. 15:20-23], and the ruler of the kings of the earth [emphasizing His sovereignty over human rulers]. To Him who loves us [ἀγαπάω agapao – present tense = keeps on loving us], and released us [λύω luo to release, untie, set free = image of freeing a slave] from our sins by His blood [His blood = the payment for our sins], 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests [spiritual representatives] to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever; amen. 7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds [Dan. 7:13], and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him [perhaps mourning because He disrupts their lives]; even so; amen [the coming of Jesus is the theme of the book].  8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega [merism = the eternal One; similar to the term I Am],” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty [παντοκράτωρ pantokratoralmighty, all-powerful – used 9 times: Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22].”

Summary:

  1. The Central Idea of the Text is that John is given a revelation from Jesus, about Jesus, to the seven churches in Asia.
  2. The word revelation translates the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις apokalupsis, which means an unveiling or disclosure of information. The word is transliterated “apocalypse” in English, which has the idea of chaos, disaster, or destruction, and often connotes a dark and hopeless future accompanied with despair. The revelation given to John is both by and about Jesus, and is intended to inform us about what God will accomplish in the future.
  • "John’s prophecy is primarily the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of future events. You must not divorce the Person from the prophecy, for without the Person there could be no fulfillment of the prophecy. “He is not incidental to its action,” wrote Dr. Merrill Tenney. “He is its chief Subject.” In Revelation 1–3, Christ is seen as the exalted Priest-King ministering to the churches. In Revelation 4–5, He is seen in heaven as the glorified Lamb of God, reigning on the throne. In Revelation 6–18, Christ is the Judge of all the earth; and in Revelation 19, He returns to earth as the conquering King of kings. The book closes with the heavenly Bridegroom ushering His bride, the church, into the glorious heavenly city."[1]
  1. John states there is blessing upon all who read and heed the words of this prophecy. The word blessing translates the Greek word μακάριος makarios, which means blessed or happy, and is used seven times throughout the book (Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).
  2. The revelation provides information concerning God’s sovereign rule over creation and mankind, either directly, or through Jesus. Jesus is called “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5), who has “dominion forever and ever” (Rev. 1:6), who is “coming with the clouds” to establish His kingdom on earth (Rev. 1:7; cf. Dan. 7:13-14), and is “the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). This introduction frontloads the idea that Jesus is coming back to establish His kingdom on earth (Rev. 11:15; 19:11-21; 20:4-6). This is the earthly kingdom that was promised to David’s son—Jesus—who will rule over the world forever (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14, 27; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 11:15; 20:4-6).

 

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 566.

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Introduction to the Book of Revelation

May 19, 2018

Author & Date

     The apostle John wrote the book of Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos by the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). “Some of the early church fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Irenaeus, and Victorinus) wrote that the Apostle John experienced exile on the island of Patmos during Domitian’s reign.”[1] Accepting their testimony helps to date the book around A.D. 95-96.

Audience

     John wrote the book of Revelation to seven churches that resided in Asia (modern day Turkey). These churches are listed in Revelation chapters 2-3.

Interpretive Approaches

  1. The nonliteral or allegorical approach – this view lets the reader make the text say whatever he/she wants, but primarily sees it as an allegory in which good triumphs over evil.
  2. The preterist approach – The word preterist comes from the Latin word praeter, which means “past.” The preterist view regards the book of Revelation as already fulfilled in the first century—some say up to the third century—and contains no future prophecy.
  3. The historical approach – this view sees the book as being fulfilled throughout church history, from the time of the apostle John until the second coming of Jesus (common among the Protestant reformers). “It holds that the book has been in the process of being fulfilled throughout the whole Christian era.”[2]
  4. The futurist approach – this view interprets the book of Revelation in a consistent, literal manner while recognizing the use of types and symbols throughout (i.e. lampstands, the number seven, etc.). It sees the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 as representative of all types of churches throughout church history, and views Revelation 4-22 as future.

     This author will follow a normal, grammatical, historical approach to the book of Revelation. This approach considers words and phrases within their context, and reads them according to their normal meaning, unless something within a passage indicates it should be interpreted otherwise. There are symbols used throughout the book of Revelation; however, many of those symbols are either interpreted within the passage itself, or can be interpreted by similar passages that provide understanding. For example, the seven stars are angels (Rev. 1:20), the great dragon is Satan (Rev. 12:9), and the leopard, bear, and lion (Rev. 13:2) resemble the animals mentioned in Daniel (Dan. 7:4-6).

Purpose of the Book

     The purpose of the book is to reveal Jesus Christ, His authority over the church and the world, and the establishment of His kingdom on earth after His Second Coming.

Outline

     The outline of Revelation is given within the book. The Lord Jesus told John, “Therefore write [γράφω grapho – aor/act/imp] the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things [μετὰ ταῦτα meta tauta – Rev. 4:1]” (Rev. 1:19).

  1. The things which have been – Chapter 1
  2. The things which are – Chapters 2-3
  3. The things which shall be – Chapters 4-22

[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jud 25.

[2] Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation-Everyman's Bible Commentary (Chicago, Ill. Moody Publishers, 1996), 6.

 

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Lesson 52 - The New Heaven and New Earth

April 21, 2018

Revelation 21:1-27

Then I saw a new [kainos = new in a qualitative sense] heaven and a new earth [not the first time it is mentioned in Scripture; see Isa. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13]; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away [been destroyed], and there is no longer any sea [no oceans, but still rivers; cf. Rev. 21:6; 22:1-2].  2 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem [perhaps what Jesus mentioned in John 14:1-3], coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband [prepared by God].  3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne [of Jesus], saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them [for all eternity], and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes [show of compassion]; and there will no longer be any death [no more separation]; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain [things associated with the present world]; the first things have passed away.”  5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new [He was the first creator; cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:16].” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”  6 Then He said to me, “It is done [γίνομαι ginomai perf/act/ind = i.e. the New Creation is complete]. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost [cf. John 4:10-11].  7 “He who overcomes [by faith in Jesus; see John 6:28-29, 40; 1 John 5:4-5] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.  8 “But for the [unbelievers whose lives are characterized as] cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death [cf. Rev. 20:11-15].”  9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.”  10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God [which is beautiful, like a bride at her wedding], 11 having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like [comparative words] a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.  12 It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.  13There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west.  14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb [though both are God’s redeemed people, Israel and the church are distinguished in the eternal state].  15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall.  16 The city is laid out as a square [like the Sacrificial Altar, the High Priest’s breastplate, and Holy of Holies; Ex. 27:1; 28:16; 2 Chron. 3:8], and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal [would roughly cover an area from Texas to North Dakota and Oklahoma to New York].  17 And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards [216 feet thick], according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.  19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;  20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.  21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was [made from a] a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  22 I saw no temple in it [which was used to point people to God], for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple [God Himself is personally present all the time].  23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  24 The [believing] nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it [perhaps multitudes of believers who were born during the millennium and enter into eternity, yet live outside the New Jerusalem].  25 In the daytime (for there will be no night there) [perhaps implying we’ll never sleep] its gates will never be closed; 26 and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 27 and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it [because all unbelievers have been assigned to the Lake of Fire], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. 

Revelation 22:1-21

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal [without pollution], coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life [First seen in the Garden of Eden, Gen. 2:9; 3:22-24, and later Promised to believers, Rev. 2:7], bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing [qerapei,a - therapeia – healing, care, health] of the nations.  3 There will no longer be any curse [affecting the planet; cf. Gen. 3:17-21]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.  5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.  6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place [or happen quickly].  7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”  8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things [as a witness]. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things [cf. Rev. 19:10].  9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”  10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.  11 “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”  12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done [salvation is by grace / rewards are by works; cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:10-11].  13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end [all creation begins and ends with Christ].”  14 Blessed are those [believers] who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.  15 Outside [of paradise] are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying [i.e. all unbelievers].  16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost [salvation is free to those who want it].  18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book [such activity would indicate unbelief].  20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus [John agrees].  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Summary: The new heavens and earth will be the place for the New Jerusalem, which is described in detail. In the eternal state there will be no sickness or death, for the curse will be removed, and believers will fully enjoy the blessings of God.

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Lesson 51 - The Judgment of the Great White Throne

April 21, 2018
  • And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it [Christ; cf. John 5:22], from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  12 And I saw the [unrighteous] dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne [of Christ], and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the [unrighteous] dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds [good works ≠ God’s righteousness, which is given at salvation to those who by faith trust in Jesus as their Savior; cf. Rom. 3:21-28; 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9].  13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them [all unbelievers of all time] according to their deeds.  14 And death [which came into existence in the Garden of Eden] and Hades [the place for the dead] were thrown [together] into the lake of fire. This is the second death [eternal separation], the lake of fire.  15 And if anyone’s name [among all the unbelievers] was not found written in the book of life [and they will not be], he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15)

The great white throne judgment is for unbelievers only. The three major judgments stated in Scripture include:

  1. Christians before the bema seat in heaven (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). This is a judgment for rewards, not salvation.
  2. The judgment of Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46), both saved and lost. This judgment concerns entrance into the millennial kingdom.
  3. The judgment of all unbelievers immediately preceding the eternal state (Rev. 20:11-15).

     Believers will not stand before the great white throne because we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, having trusted in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16; 20:31; Acts 4:12; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5).  Salvation is based on the work of Christ for us (John 10:28), but eternal rewards are based on the works we do for Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10). The “book of life” reveals if a person has eternal life (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). Those who have eternal life will enter heaven and those do not, will not.

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Lesson 50 - The Judgment of Satan and Fallen Angels

April 14, 2018

     At some unknown time in the past Satan rebelled against God and led a host of angels to join to him (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:11-18). Subsequently, he seduced Adam and Eve and led them in rebellion against God (Gen. 3:1-7). Satan was judged at that time for his actions (Gen. 3:14-15). Jesus pronounced Satan’s judgment in John 16:11, which judgment was secured at the cross when Christ died for our sins and released us from Satan’s captivity (2 Tim. 2:26; cf. Col. 1:13-14).

Satan Cast out of Heaven

     Halfway through the seven year Tribulation, there will be war in heaven, and the archangel Michael and his angels cast Satan out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9).

Satan Bound and Cast into the Abyss

     Revelation 20:1-3 describes the future binding of Satan in which he is cast into the abyss and incarcerated for a thousand years. The reason for Satan’s imprisonment is that he will not be able to deceive the nations during the reign of Christ. Though Scripture is silent, it is assumed that demons are also incarcerated—or suppressed—during the reign of Christ.

The Final Judgment of Satan

     Satan is released after the thousand years of incarceration and immediately resumes his old activities of leading rebellion against God (Rev. 20:7-8). Satan and his armies are quickly defeated by God (Rev. 20:9), and he is cast into the Lake of Fire where he will be forever (Rev. 20:10). Apparently the demons are judged as well and assigned to the Lake of Fire with their leader (Matt. 25:41; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6).

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Lesson 49 - The Millennial Kingdom

April 14, 2018

     The Bible reveals two aspects of God’s rule over His creation. The first is His universal rule in which He sovereignly decrees whatsoever comes to pass and “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). There are times when God accomplishes His will immediately without the assistance of others (such as in the creation), and other times He chooses to work mediately through creatures, both intelligent (angels and people), and simple (Balaam’s donkey). Concerning God’s universal rule, Scripture reveals, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19), and “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). Daniel writes, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth” (Dan 4:34b-35a; cf. 5:21; 1 Chron. 29:11-12).

     The second is God’s earthly rule in which He governs through a human mediatorial administrator. The first account of such a rule is found in Genesis where the Lord assigned Adam and Eve to rule over the whole world (Gen. 1:26-28). Theirs was a mediatorial kingdom, which may be defined as “the rule of God through a divinely chosen representative who not only speaks and acts for God but also represents the people before God; a rule which has especial reference to the earth; and having as its mediatorial ruler one who is always a member of the human race.”[1] However, through an act of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7), Adam and Eve forfeited their rulership to Satan, a fallen angelic creature, who rules through deception (2 Cor. 11:3, 14; Rev 12:9; 20:3, 8) , blindness (2 Cor. 4:3-4), and enslavement (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan has had dominion over this world and is called “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30; 16:1), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2), and “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). When tempting Jesus, Satan offered Him “the kingdoms of the world” (Matt. 4:8-9), and they were his to give. However, the Bible also reveals that Satan has been judged (Gen. 3:15; John 16:11), and in the future will be cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-9), confined for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3), and eventually cast into the Lake of Fire forever (Rev. 20:10). It must always be remembered that God sovereignly permits Satan a limited form of rulership for a limited period of time, always restraining him and his demonic forces, if they seek to transgress the boundaries He’s established for them (Job. 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Mark 15:1-13; 2 Pet. 2:4).

     Subsequent to Adam and Eve, God has worked to reestablish His kingdom on earth through the promises and covenants offered to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3), the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), the nation Israel (Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 29:1-29; 30:1-10; Jer. 31:31-33), and king David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37). When Jesus came, He repeatedly offered the earthly kingdom to Israel (Matt. 3:1-2; Matt. 4:17; 10:5-7), a literal kingdom they could physically enter into (Matt. 5:20; 6:10; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:3-6). But they rejected Him and His offer (Mark 15:12-15; John 19:15); therefore, the earthly kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43; cf. Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:3-6; Rev. 20:4-6).

     We are currently living in the church age, which will come to an end when the church is raptured to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Afterward, there will be a period of time known as the Tribulation, which will begin when the Antichrist signs a seven year peace treaty with Israel (Dan. 9:24-27; cf. Revelation chapters 6-18). The time of Tribulation will come to an end when Jesus returns to earth to put down rebellion (Rev. 19:11-21) and establish His kingdom (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 11:15; 20:1-6). After His second coming, Jesus will rule the whole earth, from Jerusalem, on the throne of David (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Matt. 6:10; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Mark 11:9-10), He will rule absolutely with “a rod of iron” (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15), and His reign will be marked by righteousness and peace on the earth (Isa. 11:1-9). Also, we know from Scripture that the earthly kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6), and afterward will become an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44; 7:27; 1 Cor. 15:24). The word millennium is derived from the Latin words mille which means “thousand” and annum which means “year”. The word millennium translates the Greek word χίλιοι chilioi, which occurs six times in Revelation 20:1-6. The millennial kingdom will see Jesus seated on the throne of David, in Jerusalem, ruling over the world. He will rule the nations in righteousness, advocating for the poor and weak, as well as suppressing wickedness and rebellion (Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15). Satan will be bound during the reign of Christ (Rev. 20:1-3), and a new worship system will be implemented (see Ezekiel 40-46).

 

[1] Alva McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake, Ind. BMH Books, 2009), 41. 

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Lesson 48 - The Judgment of Israel and the Nations

April 8, 2018
  • "The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He." (Deut. 32:4)
  • "Righteous are You, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments." (Ps. 119:137)

     Righteousness and justice are related words. The former speaks of God’s moral character, whereas the latter speaks of the actions that flow out of His character. Whatever God’s righteousness requires, His justice executes; either to approve or reject, to bless or condemn. God is righteous by nature (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 119:137, 142; Isa. 45:21; John 17:25) and in all His ways (Ps. 145:17; Rev. 15:3). 

     Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ will return to earth after the seven year Tribulation (Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 19:11-21), and when He returns, He will sit on the throne of His earthly kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Matt. 19:28; 25:31) and will judge both Jews and Gentiles who opposed Him (Ezek. 20:33-38; Matt. 25:31-46). We know from Scripture that Jesus’ earthly kingdom will last a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6).

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Lesson 47 - The Resurrections

April 8, 2018

     When God originally created Adam and Eve, He created them in His image (Heb. צֶלֶם tselem), to have personality, consciousness, self-consciousness, intellect, volition and emotion (Gen. 2:16-27). God formed Adam’s body from the dust of the earth “and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [Heb. נֶפֶשׁ nephesh; Grk. ψυχή psuche]” (Gen. 2:7; cf. 1 Cor. 15:45). At that moment Adam became a living being. When Adam sinned through disobedience and brought sin into the human race, he also brought death, both spiritual and physical (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-8; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22). Death means separation. Spiritual death refers to separation from God, and physical death refers to the separation of the soul from the body. The unbeliever who is alive on the earth is separated from God in time, and should he continue his entire life rejecting the Gospel message (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Eph. 2:8-9), then he will be separated from God for eternity in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). At physical death, the soul is separated from the body. The body returns to the earth (Gen. 3:19), and the soul returns to God (Ps. 104:29; 146:4; Acts 7:59). Solomon states, “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).

     Death is not the final victor in life. God created the soul to be forever united with the body; therefore, God will resurrect (Grk. ἀνάστασις anastasis) each body that has died and will reunite it with every human soul. It is necessary to distinguish between resuscitation and resurrection. There were times when God raised, or resuscitated, a person back to life, but that person was subject to death, and eventually died again (John 12:9-10). When a person is resurrected, they never die, but live forever (John 11:25-26). 

     Concerning resurrections in general, Daniel wrote, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Dan 12:1-2). Daniel is writing in general and referring to the resurrection of believers and unbelievers. The resurrection of believers means the body and soul will be reunited and spend eternity with God in heaven. The resurrection of unbelievers means the body and soul will be reunited and spend eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire. We learn from other biblical passages that there are several resurrections mentioned in the Bible:

  1. The resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rev. 1:5).[1]
  2. The resurrection of church age believers at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:51–53; 1 Thess. 4:14–17).
  3. The two prophetic witnesses who are killed and resurrected during the Tribulation (Rev. 11:8-11).
  4. Old Testament saints (Job 19:25-27; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:12-14; Dan 12:1-2, 13), and Tribulation saints (Rev. 20:4-6), will be resurrected at the beginning of Jesus’ millennial reign.
  5. The resurrection of all unbelievers at the end of the Millennium who stand before the Great White Throne before being thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Those who are part of the second resurrection partake of the second death (Rev. 20:14).

     The apostle John mentions the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:6). The “first resurrection” actually occurs in several stages starting with Christ, and involves only believers who will live with Christ during His millennial reign and for all eternity (Rev. 20:4-6). It is called “the first resurrection” in the Bible, “not in the sense of being number one or prior to all resurrections, but in the sense that it occurs before the final resurrection, the resurrection of the wicked.”[2] The final resurrection is for unbelievers only who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which will occur after the millennial reign of Christ. Charles Ryrie states:

  • "The resurrection of the just is also called the first resurrection and will occur in several stages, not all at once. The dead in Christ will be raised first at the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:16). The redeemed of the tribulation period who die during that time will be raised before the millennium (Rev 20:4). The redeemed of Old Testament times will also be a part of the resurrection of the just. Expositors are divided over when they will be raised, some believing that it will happen at the rapture when the church saints are raised, and others holding that it will occur at the second coming (Dan 12:2—the writer prefers the latter view)…all unsaved people of all time will be raised after the millennium to be judged and then cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev 20:11–15). At their resurrection they will apparently be given some sort of bodies that will be able to live forever and feel the effects of the torments of the lake of fire."[3]

 Biblical_Resurrections.jpg

[1]Unidentified Old Testament saints were raised after Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 27:50-53). There is some question as to whether these people were resuscitated and died again like Lazarus (John 11:43-44) and Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:52-56), or resurrected, never to die again.

[2] John F. Walvoord, Major Bible Prophecies (Grand Rapids: Michigan, Zondervan Publishing, 1991), 379.

[3]Charles C. Ryrie, “Resurrections” A survey of Bible doctrine (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1995), 182-183.

 

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Lesson 46 - The Second Coming of Christ

March 24, 2018

     Jesus came into the world once. At His incarnation He added humanity to Himself (John 1:1, 14), walked among men and lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5). At His first coming, He repeatedly offered the earthly Davidic kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:17, 23; 9:35; 10:7; cf. 2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33), but His offer was rejected by the Jewish leadership and people (Matt. 11:20; Matt. 12:14; 27:22-23), so the kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt. 21:43). Jesus then went to the cross and died for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-8; 1 Pet. 3:18), was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Afterward, Jesus walked with His disciples for forty days after His resurrection and then ascended bodily into heaven as His disciples watched (Acts 1:9). Jesus promised to return again (Matt. 16:27; 19:28; 25:31), and this will happen after the time of Tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 29-30). The return of Christ is praiseworthy news to those who are in heaven and on the earth who love Him and look forward to His coming.  However, it is bad news to those who oppose Him (2 Thess. 1:3-10; Rev. 19:11-21). The major purposes of Jesus’ Second Coming include:

  1. Fulfilling Prophecy (Ps. 2:1-12; Isa. 11:1-5; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:1-9; Matt. 19:28; 24:29-30; 25:31; Acts 1:11; 2 Thess. 1:6-10).
  2. Judging the world and establishing righteousness (Ps. 96:13; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Matt. 19:28; 25:31-46; Rev. 20:4; 11-15).
  3. Rescuing persecuted believers from the Tribulation (Matt. 24:22).
  4. Bringing saved Jews into the Promised Land (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:8; Ezek.; 37:21-25; Rom. 11:25-26).
  5. Fulfilling the promises of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 34:25-27; 37:26).
  6. Judging the Antichrist and the False Prophet (Rev. 19:20).
  7. Casting Satan into the Abyss for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).
  8. Establishing the earthly Davidic kingdom in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4, 34-37; Luke 1:31-33; cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5; Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 20:1-6).
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Lesson 45 - The Great Tribulation

March 24, 2018

     Why the Tribulation? Because Jesus Christ is coming back to earth to set up His millennial kingdom and He must put down rebellion. God’s wrath will destroy the rebellion of: 1) Satan and his angels, 2) unbelieving Israel, and 3) unbelieving Gentiles. At the close of the Tribulation, Satan will be defeated and eventually bound (Rev. 12:7-9; 20:1-3), all unbelievers will be destroyed (Rev. 19:19-21), leaving only believing Jews and Gentiles to enter His kingdom on earth (Rev. 19:19-21; cf. Matt. 24:29-25:46). In spite of all the satanic rebellion in the world during the Tribulation, God remains sovereign and in complete control (Rev. 17:17; cf. Prov. 16:4). He also reveals His love and grace during the time of the Tribulation, which is extended toward:

  1. The 144,000 Jews He saves and calls to service (Rev. 7:4-8).
  2. The martyrs who have died for their faith in Jesus (Rev. 7:9-17).
  3. His two prophetic witnesses whom He resurrects (Rev. 11:11-12).
  4. The nations to whom He sends His gospel message (Rev. 14:6-7).
  5. Those who enter into His kingdom after the Tribulation (Rev. 20:4-6).

     In all the judgments, God is righteous and just, whereas men are wicked and “deserve” wrath (Rev. 16:6-7; cf. 19:2).  Rather than turning to God, the rebellious will:

  • Try to hide and flee from Him (Rev. 6:15-16)
  • Seek a horrible death rather than conform to His will (Rev. 9:6)
  • Not repent of their rebellion (Rev. 9:20-21)
  • Rejoice and celebrate at the death of His servants (Rev. 11:7-10)
  • Side with the Satan (Rev. 13:3-4)
  • Blaspheme and curse God’s name (Rev. 16:8-9, 11, 21)
  • Make war with Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:19)

The Tribulation will come to an end when Jesus returns and puts down all rebellion and establishes His millennial kingdom in Israel.

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Lesson 44 - Events Preceding the Second Coming of Christ

March 18, 2018

     In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus describes the period between His first and second coming (Matt. 13:25-30, 36-40). We know this to be the church age in which we currently live."In general, Matthew 13 speaks of the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ without reference to the rapture or the particulars of the church as the body of Christ. It describes the sphere of profession of faith and the mingled picture of good and evil. The dual development of both good and evil throughout the age, climaxing in judgment and separation, characterizes the period."[1] Dr. Chafer argues there are nine signs given in that section:

  1. False Christs (vs. 5)
  2. Wars and rumors of wars (vs.6)
  3. Famines (vs. 7)
  4. Pestilences (vs. 7)
  5. Earthquakes (vs. 7)
  6. Martyrs (vss. 9-10)
  7. False prophets (vs. 11)
  8. Abounding iniquity and cooling ardor for Christ (vs. 12)
  9. The gospel of the kingdom to be preached in all the world (vs. 14)[2]

He also argues there are four additional signs given in 2 Peter chapters 2-3:

  1. Denial of the Person and deity of Christ (2:1)
  2. Denial of the work of Christ that He bought us when He died on the cross (2:1)
  3. Moral apostasy over departure from moral standards (2:2-22)
  4. Departure from the doctrine of the second coming of Christ and the judgments related to it (3:1-13)[3]

     The rapture of the church will bring the church age to a close. It is at this time that Jesus will call all Christians from the world to heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18), leaving only a professing church behind (i.e. not true Christians such Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other groups who take the name “Christian”). “This event will bring to a close the purpose of God in terms of the church as a separate company of saints, and the departure of the church will set the stage for the major events leading up to the second coming of Christ to the earth to set up His millennial kingdom.”[4]

The Period of Preparation

     The removal of the church from the world will allow evil to prosper in new ways without restriction. Evil embraces religion, and there will eventually come a worldwide religion described as Babylon the Great in Revelation 17. This will be the time when Israel’s blindness will be removed and many will be saved (Rom. 11:25-26). Like the Jewish apostles who started the church, so there will be Jewish evangelists who will convert many to Christ during the time of the Tribulation (Rev. 7:4-8). It is also during this time that there will emerge a confederation of European nations that will form the basis for a one world government where Antichrist will rule (Dan. 7:7-8).

The Period of Peace

     The Antichrist will rise to world power and broker a seven year peace treaty with Israel and her surrounding hostile neighbors (Dan. 9:26-27). It is implied in Scripture that the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and animal scarifies will be reinstituted (Dan. 9:27; 2 Thess. 2:3-4).

The Period of Persecution

     The Antichrist will break the peace treaty with Israel half way through the seven year Tribulation and will take political control of the nations of the world and set up a global economic and religious system which he controls (Rev. 13:7, 16-17). This begins the period of worldwide persecution known as the great Tribulation (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). During this time the Antichrist will set himself up in the Jewish temple as god (2 Thess. 2:4) and will persecute all who do not worship him (Rev. 13:8, 15). God will pour out great judgments upon the earth and the vast majority of mankind will be destroyed (Revelation chapters 6-18). The troubles of the world will cease only when Christ returns (Rev. 19:11-21).

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 313.

[2] Ibid., 313.

[3] Ibid., 3:13.

[4] Ibid., 314.

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Lesson 43 - Israel in History and Prophecy

March 18, 2018

Israel Past

     The history of Israel begins with God who chose the nation to be His representatives from eternity past. Israel was created by God (Isa. 43:1, 15), and He loves them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:1-3). God chose them because of who He is, not because of any greatness or goodness in them (Deut. 7:6-8). Israel began with a unilateral covenant which God made with Abraham, promising “I will make you a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). The Abrahamic covenant was later expanded with the Land Covenant (Deut. 29:1-29; 30:1-10), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:14-24), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Though Abraham had children by different women (Sarah, Hagar, and Keturah), the Abrahamic promises were restated only through Isaac (Gen. 17:19-21) and Jacob (Gen. 28:10-15). Because of a crippling encounter with God, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, which means “he who wrestles with God” (Gen. 32:24-30). The sons of Israel (i.e. Jacob) went into captivity in Egypt for four hundred years as God had foretold (Gen. 15:13), and remained there until He called them out through His servants Moses and Aaron (Ex. 3:1-10). God delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage through a series of ten plagues that destroyed Pharaoh and the nation (Exodus chapters 5-14). Then God entered into a bilateral covenant relationship with Israel at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:1-8), and gave them 613 commands—which comprise the Mosaic Law—and these commands are commonly divided into moral, civil, and ceremonial codes. Israel would know blessing if they obeyed God’s commands (Deut. 28:1-15), and cursing if they did not (Deut. 28:16-68). The nation of Israel remained in the wilderness for forty years while God tested and humbled them (Deut. 8:2-5). After Moses died, God brought the Israelites into the land of Canaan (i.e. the land promised to Abraham) under the leadership of Joshua (Deut. 31:23; Josh. 1:1-9), and there the land was divided, giving a portion to each of the descendants of Jacob. After Joshua died (Josh. 24:29-31), Israel repeatedly fell into idolatry and suffered divine discipline for their rebellion (read Judges). This went on for nearly 300 hundred years as Israel fell into a pattern of idolatry, after which God would send punishment, then the people would cry out to God, Who would relent of His judgment and send a judge to deliver them, then the people would serve God for a time, and then fall back into idolatry. The period of the Judges is marked by people who did not obey the Lord, but “did what was right in their own eyes” (Judg. 17:6; 21:25). Samuel was the last of Israel’s judges, and then the people cried for a king because they wanted to be like the other nations (1 Sam. 8:4-5). God gave them their request (1 Sam. 8:22), and Saul became the first king in Israel (1 Sam. 10:1). Though Saul started well, he quickly turned away from the Lord and would not obey God’s commands. Saul reigned for approximately 40 years and his leadership was basically a failure (1 Sam. 13:1; cf. Acts 13:21). Later, God raised up David to be king in Israel (1 Sam. 16:1-13), and David reigned for 40 years and was an ideal king who followed God and encouraged others to do the same (1 Ki. 2:10-11). God decreed David’s throne would be established forever through one of his descendants (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4), and this is Jesus (Luke 1:31-33). Solomon reigned for 40 years after David (1 Ki. 2:12; 11:42-43), and though He was wise and did many good things (ruled well, built the temple, wrote Scripture, etc.), he eventually turned away from God and worshiped idols (1 Ki. 11:1-10), and the kingdom was divided afterward (1 Ki. 11:11-41). The nation was united under Saul, David, and Solomon.

     Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, ruled over the two southern tribes (Judah) and Jeroboam ruled over the ten northern tribes (Israel). Israel—the northern kingdom—had 19 kings throughout its history and all were bad, as they led God’s people into idolatry (i.e. the “sins of Jeroboam” 1 Ki. 16:31; 2 Ki. 3:3; 10:31; 13:2). The ten northern tribes came under divine discipline because of their idolatry and were destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Judah—the southern kingdom—had 20 kings throughout its history and 8 were good (some more than others), as they obeyed God and led others to do the same (they were committed to the Lord like David, 1 Ki. 15:11). However, Judah repeatedly fell into idolatry—as the 10 northern tribes had done—and were eventually destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The dispersion of Israel was promised by God if they turned away from Him and served other gods (Deut. 28:63-68). Since the destruction by Babylon, Israel has been under Gentile dominance (Luke 21:24; Rom. 11:25). After a temporary regathering under Ezra and Nehemiah, Israel continued under Gentile dominance with the Medes & Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Because of their rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God disciplined Israel again in A.D. 70, and the Jews were scattered all over the world (Jam. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1). Israel’s current state is one of judgment (Matt. 23:37-39).

Israel Present

For nearly 1900 years God has faithfully kept His word to disperse Israel because of their idolatry (Deut. 28:63-68) and their rejection of Jesus as Messiah (Matt. 23:37-39). Now, since 1948, Israelites are back in the Promised Land; even though the majority of them are atheists who reject God. This could be a fulfillment of prophecy in which God has regathered His people before the time of the judgment of the Tribulation (Ezek. 20:33-38; 22:17-22; Zeph. 2:1-2). Logically it makes sense that God will regather Israel as a nation (Ezek. 36:22-24) before He regenerates them and gives them a new heart (Ezek. 36:25-28). Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum argues two regatherings of Israel. The first is a regathering of Jews in unbelief, which sets the stage for the Tribulation. The second regathering is in belief, which prepares them for Messiah, who will rule over them during the millennium.

  • "First, there was to be a regathering in unbelief in preparation for judgment, namely the judgment of the Tribulation. This was to be followed by a second worldwide regathering in faith in preparation for blessings, namely the blessings of the messianic age. Once it is recognized that the Bible speaks of two such regatherings, it is easy to see how the present State of Israel fits into prophecy."[1]

     As Christians, we are glad to see Jews returning to the Promised Land and support the nation of Israel. This support is by no means a blanket endorsement of all Israel does, for the nation may behave immorally like any other nation. However, we recognize that God is working to set the stage for prophetic events, and that Israel being in the Promised Land is a part of that.

Israel Future

     Israel has a future hope because of the promises and covenants God made through the patriarchs and prophets (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18; 17:8; Deut. 30:1-10; 2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:33-37; Jer. 31:31-33). Though unbelieving Israel is currently under divine discipline (Matt. 23:37-39), God’s covenants and promises are still in effect (Rom. 9:1-5), and will remain in force until Jesus returns and is accepted as their Messiah. Once Messiah returns, Israel will possess all of the land that was promised to them (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:17; 17:26), and they will possess it “forever” (Gen. 13:15).[2] In addition to possessing all the land, Israel will benefit from a descendant of David, seated on a throne in Jerusalem, ruling over them forever (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:3-4). This descendant is Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31-33).

 

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 716.

[2] Covenant theologians often argue that God has already fulfilled His promise to Abraham that his descendants would possess the land (Josh. 21:43-45; Neh. 9:8). God was faithful to bring Abraham’s descendants into the Promised Land, and though they eventually came to control it under the reign of Solomon (1 Ki. 4:21-24), they did not possess it all, and this seems plain from other biblical passages (Josh. 23:5-7; Judg. 1:21, 27-28). In addition, it was stated in Scripture that Israel would possess the land “forever” (Gen. 13:15; cf. 17:8), and this has not happened. God will, in the future, give Israel possession of all the Promised Land, and they will possess it forever.  

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Lesson 42 - The Gentiles in History and Prophecy

March 4, 2018
  • "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

     The word Gentile translates the Hebrew גּוֹי goy and the Greek ἔθνος ethnos. The Hebrew word goy is used in a general sense of any ethnic group of people who reside in a known territory, and so it used to refer the descendants of Abraham (Gen. 12:2; 17:4-6; 21:18), the nation Israel (Ex. 19:6; Ps. 83:4), and others, such as the “Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites” (Deut. 7:1; cf. Josh. 23:13; Judg. 2:21, 23). However, over time, the word Gentile—both in Hebrew and Greek—came to be used in a technical manner of any people group who were not sharers of the covenant promises God made with Israel (Eph. 2:11-12).[1] Biblically, the Gentiles were generally marked by wickedness (Deut. 9:4-5), idolatry (2 Ki. 17:29), and detestable practices such as child sacrifice, divination, and sorcery (Deut. 18:9-10).

     The nation of Israel, under the Mosaic Covenant, was promised blessing by God if they obeyed His commands (Deut. 28:1-15), and divine punishment if they did not (Deut. 28:16-68). Over the centuries since their deliverance from Egyptian captivity, Israel repeatedly disobeyed God and accepted the values and practices of the nations around them (Ps. 106:33-40). Eventually, God disciplined His people, using Gentile nations (Ps. 106:41-43), and sent Israel into Babylonian captivity for seventy years (Jer. 25:8-12; cf. Ezek. 12:9-13; 17:20). During the time of the Babylonian captivity God revealed to Daniel that there would be great Gentile kingdoms that would follow Israel’s fall and which would dominate world history (Dan. 2:29-45; cf. 7:1-28). These kingdoms were the Babylonians, Medes & Persians, Greeks, and Romans. However, God would eventually establish His own kingdom on earth, and this was revealed to Daniel as well (Dan. 2:34-35; 44-45).

     The Babylonian captivity that occurred in 586 B.C. marks the beginning of what Scripture refers to as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; cf. Rom. 11:25), a period of time in which Israel—particularly Jerusalem—will be under Gentile dominance until the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the seven year Tribulation. “The Times of the Gentiles can best be defined as that long period of time from the Babylonian Empire to the Second Coming of the Messiah during which time the Gentiles have dominance over the City of Jerusalem.”[2] Though God is currently accomplishing His plans in the world through Gentiles, He still has future plans for His people, Israel. This is made clear in several places in Scripture (Rom. 9:1-5; 11:1-2, 5, 25). Jesus stated, “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The use of the word until means the dominance of the Gentiles will eventually come to an end, and when it does, God will once again work through the Jews to accomplish His plans in the world.

 

[1] Though many aspects of God’s covenants refer to Israel alone, the Lord promised that Gentiles would be blessed through Abraham (Gen. 12:3), and this blessing came through Abraham’s descendant, Jesus. The result is that Gentiles who have believed in Jesus as Savior are partakers of the spiritual blessings of God; for Scripture reveals, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off [from covenantal blessings] have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13; cf. 19-22).

[2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 21.

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Lesson 41 - The Sabbath and the Lord’s Day

March 4, 2018

     The word Sabbath (שָׁבַת shabath) means to cease or rest. It is recorded in Genesis that God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Gen. 2:2). That is, God ceased His creative activity of the universe, the earth and mankind. God did not obligate anyone to keep the Sabbath as a special day of rest until He formed the nation of Israel after they were delivered from Egyptian bondage (Ex. 16:23-30). The keeping of the Sabbath was a part of the Mosaic Law given to Israel and was to give them rest from their labor (Ex. 20:8-11; cf. Deut. 5:12-14). The Sabbath was a sign of the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 31:12-17). God pronounced the death penalty upon all who profaned the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15; Num. 15:32-36). Biblical violations of the Sabbath included gathering manna (Ex. 16:23-30), kindling a fire in one’s home (Ex. 35:1-3), gathering wood (Num. 15:32-35), carrying a load (Jer. 17:21-22), or engaging in business (Amos 8:4-6; cf. Neh. 13:15-21). Jesus declared “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27); however, over time, Jewish religious leaders invented additional commands for the Sabbath, and it was these additions that made the Sabbath a burden rather than a blessing. As Lord of the Sabbath Jesus declared that acts of necessity and compassion were permitted on the Sabbath (see Matt. 12:10-14; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 7:19-24). Jesus kept the Sabbath as the Mosaic Law prescribed, but not according to rabbinic tradition, for which He and His disciples were wrongly attacked (Matt. 12:1-8; John 5:1-9, 16; 9:14-16; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6). The Sabbath was obligatory for Israel alone, and only for the duration of the Mosaic Covenant, which has been replaced with the New Covenant (Heb. 8:6-7, 13).

The Sabbath in the Present Church Age

     Christians are not under the Mosaic Law (Rom. 6:14), but under the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). God’s commands for Christians living in church age do not obligate us to keep the Sabbath. Christians are warned against setting aside certain days, especially if they think that doing so will merit God’s favor (Gal. 4:9-10).

  • "Following the resurrection of Christ, there is no record in the New Testament that the Sabbath was observed by any believer, even in error. Doubtless the multitude of Judaized Christians did observe the Sabbath; but no record of such observance was permitted to appear in the Word of God. In like manner, following the resurrection of Christ, there is no injunction given to Jew, Gentile, or Christian to observe the Sabbath, nor is Sabbath-breaking once mentioned among the numerous lists of possible sins."[1]

Worship on Sunday

     We know from Scripture that Christians met on Sunday, the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2), and it’s possible they did this because it marked the day of the Lord’s resurrection. However, there is no divine command found in Scripture that requires us to gather on Sunday; rather, the Christian is free to observe all days alike, as every day is an opportunity to love and serve the Lord (Rom. 14:5-9).

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 290.

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Lesson 40 - The Church: The Body and Bride of Christ and Her Reward

February 10, 2018

Figures of Christ and His Church

     The New Testament sets forth several figures of Christ as He relates to the church. These include: Christ as the Shepherd and the church as His sheep (John 10:11-16). Christ as the Vine and believers as the branches (John 15:1-5). Christ as the Cornerstone and the church as the living building (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:4-6). Christ as High Priest and Christians as believer-priests (Heb. 3:1-2; 4:14-15; Rev. 1:6). Christ as the Head and the church as the body (Eph. 1:22-23). Christ as the Bridegroom and the church as the bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27).[1]

Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as His Bride

     In the Old Testament, God entered into a covenant relationship with Israel (Ex. 19:5; 34:27; Deut. 5:1-3), which figuratively portrays her as the wife of Jehovah (Ezek. 16:8).[2] God had rescued Israel from slavery and blessed her, but the people became unfaithful to Him and committed spiritual adultery by worshipping other gods (Jer. 3:1-5; cf. Ezek. 16:15-34). Later, God is pictured as separating from Israel, issuing a certificate of divorce (Jer. 3:6-10; cf. Isa. 50:1), which is a picture of judgment upon the nation. Scripture also reveals that God will restore Israel to Himself in a new covenant relationship (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 16:60-63), and Israel will be reestablished as the wife of Jehovah (Isa. 54:1-8; Hos. 2:14-20), which is a picture of future restoration and blessing (Rom. 11:25-29). In the New Testament, Christ is prophetically portrayed as the Bridegroom and the church as His engaged bride (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27). At a future time, Jesus will call His bride to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18) and receive her with a great banquet and celebration (Rev. 19:6-9). Afterward, the church will live forever in the eternal state as the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 21:9).

The Bride Adorned and Rewarded

     As members of the body of Christ, Christians are given spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:28-30; Eph. 4:11) by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11) for the edification and spiritual benefit of the church (Eph. 4:12-16). We are to use our spiritual gifts to glorify God and edify others, whether saved or lost (Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:29; Gal. 6:10).

     The Bible teaches that Christians will face a future time of judgment in heaven. This is not a judgment concerning the Christian’s right to enter heaven as the place of eternal residence, for Christ has secured our salvation and there is no fear of condemnation before God (John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1; 1 Cor. 11:32). Rather, it is a judgment concerning eternal rewards for the life we’ve lived in service to Christ (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; Eph. 6:7-8). This judgment will occur after Christ has called His church to heaven (1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:7-8; Rev. 22:12).

     The apostle Paul likens the Christian life to an athletic race, or a boxing match, in which we compete for a prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27). The Christian will be judged for his/her stewardship of resources that God has provided during his/her time on earth (Rom. 14:10-12). This includes spiritual gifts and natural abilities and resources that the believer possesses, and which God expects him/her to use to advance God’s purposes in this world. When the Christian is judged, it will be for rewards, concerning whether we lived for God or self (1 Cor. 3:9-15).

[1] The following list is taken from Major Bible Themes, pages 274-276.

[2] In another place Israel is figuratively portrayed as God’s son (Ex. 4:22).

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Lesson 39 - The Church: Her Organization and Ordinances

February 10, 2018

     As an organization, the local church has historically adopted three forms of government. 1) Episcopalian - which recognizes bishops who organize the local functions of the church (Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist). 2) Congregational - where major decisions are voted by the church members (Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Baptist). 3) Elder led - which is a representative form of church government with appointed persons to lead the church (Bible churches, Reformed, Presbyterian).

Church Leadership

     The elder led model best represents the biblical teaching. Concerning the qualifications for church elders, Paul lists 15 qualifications in his letter to Timothy (1 Tim. 3:1-7), and 17 qualifications in his letter to Titus (Tit. 1:5-9). Though similar in most ways, the two lists differ, both in number and type of qualities mentioned. It would seem Paul was providing a general list of characteristics that one would like to see when considering a person as an elder in the church. The consideration of an elder in the church is something that requires time and observation.  Certainly he must be “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2); however, much of what is set forth in Scripture relates to his character, home and public life.  Biblically, it appears only God selects elders to serve in His church (Acts 20:28). The Bible does not specify how many elders may serve in a church, or even what process is to be followed concerning their appointment to office. The church has the liberty to follow a relaxed or formal policy depending on its membership. Below is a list of observations about elders:

 

  1. The terms elder, bishop, overseer, and pastor appear to be synonymous (Acts 20:17, 28; Tit. 1:5-7; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
  2. The first elders in Scripture had their place in the church by apostolic appointment. First, Paul appointed elders in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (Acts 14:21-23), and later, he commanded Titus to appoint elders in the church (Tit. 1:5). Since we do not have apostles today, authority does not rest in a person, but Scripture alone. Church leadership appears to be appointed by God (Acts 20:28; cf. Eph. 4:11-12), and the church recognizes leadership because they measure up to the qualifications set forth in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9).
  3. They had to measure up to the qualifications for eldership (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9). The two lists are not exact, and one can only surmise that each list served either as a general guideline, or was specifically tailored by the Apostle Paul for each church-group to whom he was writing.
  4. They consist of men only (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:6; cf. 1 Tim. 2:12-14).
  5. They solved doctrinal problems in the church through biblical discussion and research (Acts 15:4-11, cf. Acts 16:4).
  6. They worked with “the whole church” in choosing men to send on a missionary journey (Acts 15:22). This is important because elders lead from the front, not the top. They work within the church, and with the church, serving as examples to the church, not “lording” their authority over others (1 Pet. 5:3).
  7. They received biblical instruction from Paul regarding the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Today the elder occupies his time with learning Scripture so he can be spiritually prepared to meet his obligations as a church leader.
  8. They shepherded the church through general oversight (Acts 20:17; 28).
  9. They guarded against false teachers and their false doctrines, guiding believers into God’s will, and feeding the church with the truths of Scripture (Acts 20:28-32; Eph. 4:11-14, cf. Jer. 3:15).
  • All the elders were leaders (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17), but only some functioned at “preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17; cf. Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:11-14; 1 Thess. 5:12).
  • They were supported financially by those who benefitted from their oversight and teaching (Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).
  • The elders offered support and prayer for those who suffer (Jas. 5:14).

Church Ordinances

     Most Protestant churches recognize the two ordinances of water baptism and the Lord’s Supper, although a few add footwashing. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only two ordinances given to the church. Both are symbolic acts that point to spiritual realities. Baptism is a picture of the believer’s spiritual union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-7; Col. 2:11-12). The Lord’s Supper is a picture of Jesus’ perfect humanity (unleavened bread) and substitutionary atoning death on the cross (shed blood) which is the basis for forgiveness of sins. Both symbols communicate the work of God on behalf of weak humanity. We cannot atone for our sins and redeem our life or the lives of others (Ps. 26:7-8), but Christ has born the penalty of our sins and paid the redemption price that was too costly for us (Isa. 53:10; Mark 10:45; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are recognizing our weakness and celebrating what Christ accomplished for us. Baptism is also a picture of our weakness, for we cannot unite ourselves to Christ, but God the Holy Spirit accomplishes this for us when He places us into union with Christ at the very moment we trust Jesus as our Savior (1 Cor. 12:13).

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When God Does Not Remove Suffering

February 4, 2018

     Most often prayer is an appeal to God to change a difficult or helpless situation. Sometimes God changes our situations as we request (i.e., concerning employment, health, finances, family matters, etc.), and sometimes He leaves the difficult situation and seeks to change our attitude (2 Cor. 12:7-10). When God does not remove a difficult situation as we request, then He intends for us to deal with it by faith (Jam. 1:2-4). God uses difficult situations to remove pride (Dan. 4:37; 2 Cor. 12:7-10), and to develop our Christian character (Rom. 5:3-5). It’s almost always the case that we prefer God change our circumstances rather than our attitude; and yet, it seems both biblically and experientially that God prefers to do the opposite. Though the Lord is concerned about our difficult situations, He’s more concerned with developing our Christian character than relieving our discomfort. However God chooses to answer, He has His reasons and they always glorify Him. A challenge to us is to trust that His plan is better than ours, wherever it happens to lead us, or however difficult the journey becomes.

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Lesson 38 - The Church: Her Worship in Prayer and Thanksgiving

February 4, 2018

     Prayer is discussion with God. It is motivated by different causes and takes different forms. Most often prayer is an appeal to God to change a difficult or helpless situation. Sometimes God changes our situations as we request (i.e., concerning employment, health, finances, family matters, etc.), and sometimes He leaves the difficult situation and seeks to change our attitude (2 Cor. 12:7-10). When God does not remove a difficult situation as we request, then He intends for us to deal with it by faith (Jam. 1:2-4). God uses difficult situations to remove pride (Dan. 4:37; 2 Cor. 12:7-10), and to develop our Christian character (Rom. 5:3-5). It’s almost always the case that we prefer God change our circumstances rather than our attitude; and yet, it seems both biblically and experientially that God prefers to do the opposite. Though the Lord is concerned about our difficult situations, He’s more concerned with developing our Christian character than relieving our discomfort. However God chooses to answer, He has His reasons and they always glorify Him. A challenge to us is to trust that His plan is better than ours, wherever it happens to lead us, or however difficult the journey becomes.

  1. Basically, one can address God as Father only as a member of the family of God (Matt. 6:9; John 1:12; Gal. 3:26; 1 Pet. 3:12).
  2. Prayer can be taught (Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:1-4).
  3. Prayer should be directed to God the Father (Matt. 6:6; Luke 11:2; Eph. 5:20; 1 Pet. 1:17), in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13; 15:16), and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18).
  4. God conditions some things on prayer (Jam. 4:2).
  5. Believers should claim God’s promises when praying (Ex. 32:11-14).
  6. God’s past actions provide a historical precedent to encourage believers in prayer (Ps. 22:2-5, 11; 44:1-4).
  7. Praise is often a response to answered prayer (Ex. 15:1-21; Ps. 28:6-7).
  8. Both the Holy Spirit and Jesus intercede for us to God the Father (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:24-25).

Types of Prayer

  1. Submission (Matthew 26:39-44)
  2. Lamentation (Psalm 55:1-7)
  3. Confession (Psalm 32:3-5; 130:2-4; 1 John 1:9)
  4. Crying out (Psalm 13:1-2)
  5. Intercession (2 Samuel 12:16)
  6. Imprecation (Psalm 69:22-28; 109:4-20; 140:9-11)
  7. Thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18)

Basic Parts of Prayer

  1. Confession of personal sin (Ps. 32:3-5; 66:18; 1 John 1:9).
  2. Thanksgiving to God for His goodness (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:17-18).
  3. Intercession for others (Eph. 6:18).
  4. Intercession for self (Heb. 4:16).
  5. Willingness to accept God’s will (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Reasons Why Some Prayers Are Not Answered

  1. Lack of faith (Jam. 1:5-8).
  2. Selfishness (Jam. 4:2-3).
  3. Worship of other gods (Jer. 7:16-18; 11:12-14).
  4. Failure to take in Bible teaching (Prov. 1:24-31; 28:9; Zech. 7:11-13).
  5. Carnality (Ps. 66:18; Mic. 3:4; Isa. 1:15; 59:1-3).
  6. Lack of harmony in the home (1 Pet. 3:7).
  7. Lack of obedience (Deut. 1:43-45; 1 John 3:22; 5:14).
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Lesson 37 - The Church: Her Service and Stewardship

February 4, 2018

     In the church age, Christian spiritual service is connected with the priesthood of every believer (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6). A priest offers worship to God and service to others. In the OT—before the Mosaic Law—few priests are mentioned. Melchizedek functioned as the king/priest of Salem (Gen. 14:18-20; cf. Heb. 7:1), and Reuel/Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) as the priest of Midian (Ex. 2:16-21; 3:1). Job served as the priest over his household, offering sacrifices for the sins of his family (Job. 1:5). Most people worshipped and served God as non-priests. Men such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob built temporary stone altars and worshipped God directly (Gen. 8:20-21; Gen. 12:7; 13:18; 26:24-25; 35:1-7). Before the Mosaic Law, it appears that sacrifice and worship was personal, simple, did not require special attire, and was not tied to a specific geographic location or facility.

     After Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt, God established the Hebrews as a theocratic nation among the Gentile nations of the world. God originally intended the whole nation to be a kingdom of priests, saying, “and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). However, because of the sin of worshipping the golden calf (Ex. 32:1-35), God took that privilege from the nation and gave it solely to the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:6-10). God required that Levitical priests could not have any physical defects (Lev. 21:17-23), and restricted the age of service to twenty-five to fifty (Num. 8:24-25). The Levitical priests were originally tied to the tabernacle for their service (and later to the temple), and special clothing was required both for the priests and the high priest. Throughout the years of their priestly service they were required to be holy in their behavior (Ex. 19:6), teach God’s Law to others (Lev. 10:11; Deut. 33:10), preserve the tabernacle and temple (Num. 18:1-4), perform official duties in the Holy of Holies once a year (Ex. 30:6-10; Lev. 16), receive the tithes (Num. 18:21, 26; cf. Heb. 7:5), and offer sacrifices for sin to God (Lev. chapters 4, 9, 16).

     The death of Christ on the cross fulfilled the Mosaic Law and ended the OT animal sacrificial system and the Levitical priesthood (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14; 8:3-4; 10:4; 2 Cor. 3:1-13; Heb. 8:13; 10:1-14). Now, in the church age, every Christian is a priest to God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6), and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The functions of the Christian priesthood include giving our body for service to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2), the sacrifice of praise for worship (Heb. 13:15), doing good works and sharing our material resources with others (Heb. 13:16; cf. Phil. 4:18), sacrificing our personal life for the benefit of others (Phil. 2:17; cf. Phil. 1:21-26; 2:3-4), the walk of sacrificial love (Eph. 5:1-2; cf. 1 Pet. 1:22), confessing our sin to God for restoration of fellowship (1 John 1:6-9), and being filled with, and walking by means of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16, 25).

     The practice of the Christian priesthood begins when the believer surrenders his own body as a “living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Unlike the OT sacrifices which surrendered their life once, the Christian life is a moment by moment, continual surrender to God. Rather than offer the sacrifice of animals, the Christian is called to offer spiritual sacrifices. Spiritual sacrifice involves Christian service within the body of Christ as we exercise our spiritual gifts to meet the needs of other believers. This is love set in motion for the benefit of others. It is taking what God has given to us, spiritually or materially, and giving it freely, with an open hand, for others to be blessed. This is in accord with biblical teaching and the life of Christ (Phil. 2:3-8; cf. Mark 10:45; John 10:10).

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Lesson 36 - The Church: Her Purpose and Commission

January 27, 2018

The Church: Her Purpose and Commission

     “The present divine purpose of this age is not the conversion of the world, but rather the calling out from the world those who will believe in Christ to form the body of Christ which is the church.”[1] The church is to promote the gospel message into the entire world (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). This is not a call to change the world and make it a better place; but rather, to call out a people who will be part of the church, the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). Christians promote the gospel through direct verbal communication (Rom. 10:11-15; 1 Cor. 15:3-4), praying for the lost (1 Tim. 2:1-4), and financial gifts that support ministers (1 Cor. 9:13-14; Gal. 6:6).

The Internal Purposes of the Church

     As Christians, we are to “do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10). Doing good—as God defines it—presupposes a knowledge of Scripture, for knowing God’s Word necessarily precedes doing His will. As Christians, we study the Bible that we might know God, learn His plan for our lives, and advance to spiritual maturity (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2). As we learn Scripture, we realize we are called to commit ourselves to Christ (Rom. 12:1), be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18), be gracious to others (Col. 4:6), seek the interests of others over self (Phil. 2:3-4), love one another (1 Cor. 13:4-8a; 1 Thess. 3:11-12; 4:9; 1 Jo. 4:7-11), be humble, gentle and patient (Eph. 4:1-2), be kind and forgiving (Eph. 4:32), pray for one another (Jam. 5:16), be encouraging (1 Thess. 5:11), build others up (Rom. 15:1-2; Eph. 4:29), serve one another (Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:10), do good works (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14), and pursue righteousness and holiness (Tit. 2:11-12; 1 Pet. 1:14-16).

     The Bible reveals there are immature Christians who behave no differently than unbelievers who do not know God or the love and grace that characterizes Him. As worldly-minded Christians they exhibit jealousy and strife (1 Cor. 3:1-3), sexual immorality (1 Cor. 5:1-2), selfishness (1 Cor. 11:21), relationship conflicts (Phil. 4:2), legalism (Gal. 5:1-12), sinful partiality (Jam. 2:1-4), worldly ambition (Jam. 3:14), and idolatry (Rev. 2:14, 20). But God wants more from us. He wants us to mature and manifest the qualities that make the Christian beautiful. Spiritual growth is intentional and requires discipline of the mind and will. It is a life of faith in which we constantly learn and live God’s will. Of course there are failures and setbacks; however, relapse does not have to mean collapse, as the Christian can confess his/her sin, receive forgiveness (1 John 1:9), and continue the advance toward spiritual maturity.

[1] Lewis S. Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 242-243.

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Lesson 35 - The Church: Her Members

January 27, 2018

The Church: Her Members

     The word church is a translation of the Greek word ἐκκλησία ekklesia, which means called out ones, assembly, congregation, or community of Christians.[1] The word ἐκκλησία ekklesia is applied in a general sense to any assembly, such as an assembly of residents of a city (Acts 19:32, 39, 41). The word is also applied to Israel as a general assembly or congregation (Matt. 18:17; Acts 7:38). When applied to Christians, ἐκκλησία ekklesia takes on a technical meaning and refers to those who have been joined to “the body of Christ” (Eph. 1:22-23). Though both are the people of God, the NT church is distinct from the nation of Israel (1 Cor. 10:32). Though God’s current plan in human history is being worked out through His church, He has not abrogated His covenants to Israel, which covenants point to a future regathering of the nation of Israel in the Promised Land, a King and kingdom, and a righteous rule for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6).

     The first reference to the Christian church occurs in Matthew 16:18 after Peter had confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16), and based on the rock-solid truth of that statement, Jesus said, “I will build [future tense] My church [ἐκκλησία ekklesia]; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus’ future tense statement reveals a church that was not in existence when He spoke. The Christian church began on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit began His baptizing ministry of placing believers into union with the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4; 11:15-17; 1 Cor. 12:13).

     The NT church is understood both in a universal and local sense, as an organism and organization. The universal church refers to the global existence of the body of Christ (Acts 9:31; Eph. 1:22-23), and the local church of those who regularly meet at a specific location (1 Cor. 1:2; Col. 1:2; Rev. 2-3). The Christian church consists of believing Jews and Gentiles, who have been spiritually united with Christ by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:11-16). The church, as the body of Christ, was fully revealed to the apostles in the New Testament (Eph. 1:22-23; 3:1-12; 5:32; Col. 1:24-27).

     In the first century, local churches were small, as believers met in people’s homes (Acts 20:20; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15). The members of the local church consisted of Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:11-16; 3:6), men and women (Eph. 5:22-23), parents and children (Eph. 6:1-4), slave and free (Eph. 6:5-9), rich and poor (1 Tim. 6:17-19; Jam. 2:2-5), spiritual and carnal (1 Cor. 3:1-3; Gal. 6:1). Home churches were generally small because of the size of the homes (probably not exceeding 50 people) and the fellowship probably tended to be personal, with an emphasis on learning God’s Word and enjoying Christian fellowship (Acts 2:42).

[1] Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. and ed. Frederick W. Danker, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 303-304.

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Lesson 34 - Divine Election

January 20, 2018

     Election is a biblical teaching that every serious student of the Bible must address at some time. It addresses issues related to sovereignty and free will, sin and salvation, justice and mercy, foreknowledge and faith. Election (ἐκλέγω eklego) is that free choice of God from eternity past in which He chose to save and bless those who are the objects of His love and grace. The elect are the ones chosen. God elects based on His sovereign good pleasure and not because of any foreseen goodness in people (John 1:11-13; 6:37, 44, 65-66; 10:27-28; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Rom. 8:29-30; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:1-2). God elects groups (Luke 6:13-16; John 6:70) and individuals (1 Chron. 28:5; Acts 9:15); and His selection is based on sovereign choice (Rom. 9:10-18), not any foresight of good or worth (Deut. 7:7-8; 1 Cor. 1:26-31; Rom. 9:11). Election is to salvation (Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-6), spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3), holy and righteous living (Col. 3:12; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9), and service for the Lord (Jer. 1:4-5; Gal. 1:15-16; cf. Acts 9:15).

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Lesson 33 - Security of the Believer

January 20, 2018

     Almost all Christians question, at some time, whether they are able to become unsaved after they’ve trusted Christ as their Savior. There are two major theological camps are Arminians (named after Jacob Arminius) and Calvinists (named after John Calvin). The former believe it is possible for the Christian to do something that will cause them to forfeit their salvation, while the latter believe that once a person is saved he/she will remain saved forever.

     At the heart of the issue is whether we understand salvation to be a work of man for God (either in whole or in part), or whether it is a work of God alone on behalf of mankind. It follows that if man contributes toward his salvation in any way, then it may be undone if he acts contrary to the character and will of God. If, however, salvation is the work of God alone, apart from any human effort, then God can keep one saved completely apart from human activity, good or bad.

     Scripture reveals that salvation is a work of God alone on behalf of mankind. God has done everything necessary to save eternally those who trust in Christ as Savior. God will discipline the Christian who turns to a life of sin, and though that Christian may suffer discipline to the point of physical death, he/she will never be in danger of forfeiting their eternal relationship with God.

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Our Salvation in Christ

January 14, 2018

     God is holy and completely set apart from sin. Scripture reveals, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13; cf. Ps. 99:9; Isa. 6:3; 1 John 1:5). All of us are under the guilt of sin and helpless to save ourselves (Rom. 3:10-23; 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-3). Further, good works have no saving merit in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). Salvation is never what we do for God, but rather, what He has done for us through the finished work of Jesus Christ who died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us (Mark 10:45; 1 Pet. 3:18). Our salvation is conditioned on faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; Rom. 3:23-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9). Once we trust in Christ as Savior, God’s righteous demands toward our sin are forever satisfied (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2), we are forgiven all our sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14), imputed with His righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), and shall never face condemnation (Rom. 8:1; 31-34; cf. 1 John 2:1). The person who is born again has new life (John 10:28; Rom. 6:23), and just as there are signs of life in a newborn infant, so there will be signs of life in a new believer.

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Lesson 32 - Assurance of Salvation

January 14, 2018
  • "In Christian experience, assurance that one is saved by faith in Christ is essential to the whole program of growth in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. Assurance is a matter of experience and relates to personal confidence in present salvation. It should not be confused with the doctrine of eternal security, which will be discussed in the next chapter. Eternal security is a question of fact, while assurance is a matter of what one believes at a given time concerning his personal salvation. Assurance of salvation depends upon three major aspects of experience: (1) understanding of the completeness of the salvation provided in Jesus Christ; (2) the confirming testimony of Christian experience; (3) acceptance by faith of biblical promises of salvation."[1]

Understanding the Nature of Salvation

     God is holy and completely set apart from sin. Scripture reveals, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13; cf. Ps. 99:9; Isa. 6:3; 1 John 1:5). All of us are under the guilt of sin and helpless to save ourselves (Rom. 3:10-23; 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-3). Further, good works have no saving merit in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). Salvation is never what we do for God, but rather, what He has done for us through the finished work of Jesus Christ who died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us (Mark 10:45; 1 Pet. 3:18). Our salvation is conditioned on faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; Rom. 3:23-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9). Once we trust in Christ as Savior, God’s righteous demands toward our sin are forever satisfied (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 2:2), we are forgiven all our sins (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14), imputed with His righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), and shall never face condemnation (Rom. 8:1; 31-34; cf. 1 John 2:1). The person who is born again has new life (John 10:28; Rom. 6:23), and just as there are signs of life in a newborn infant, so there will be signs of life in a new believer. (Read pages 212-213)

The Confirming Testimony of Christian Experience

The new life that is in the Christian is manifest only in the one who is surrendered to God (Rom. 6:11-13; 12:1-2), living by faith (Gal. 2:20; Col. 2:6-7), filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and walking by means of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16). The Christian who has surrendered to sin will manifest only those qualities of the sin nature (1 Cor. 3:1-3; 11:18-21; cf. Gal. 5:19-20), and may suffer divine discipline (Heb. 12:6-11), even to death (1 John 5:16; cf. Lev. 10:1-2; Acts 5:1-10). Whether the Christian is spiritual or carnal, he/she is in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1), and belongs to the family of God (Read page 214). Some of the manifestations of our new spiritual life include:

  1. The knowledge that God is our heavenly Father (Matt. 11:27; John 17:3).
  2. Prayer as a new reality for the Christian (Rom. 8:26-27; Eph. 5:18-19).
  3. The ability to comprehend Scripture (Luke 24:32, 45; John 16:12-15; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-16).
  4. A heightened awareness of sin. It follows that Christ, who died for sin, will naturally incline the heart of the Christian to hate that which He hates, and to reform the character of the one in whom He dwells (Ps. 119:9-11; Rom. 6:11-14).
  5. A new love for both unsaved and saved persons. It follows that Christ, who died for the lost, will naturally incline the heart of the Christian to love that which he loves (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Gal. 6:10; 1 John 3:14).
  6. A transformed character in the life of the surrendered Christian (Gal. 5:22-23; Phil. 1:21; 2:4-7).
  7. These combined experiences make the Christian aware of his/her salvation through faith in Christ. Though there continues an awareness of sin, the believer knows he/she is not condemned because of their union with Christ (Rom. 8:1).[2]

Accepting the Veracity of the Promises of the Bible

  1. The assurance of one’s salvation rests upon the truthfulness of Scripture that God’s promises are true (1 John 5:13; cf. John 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 3:21-26). Our experience is subject to fluctuation, but God’s Word never changes (Ps. 119:89, 160; Matt. 5:18; 24:35; 1 Pet. 1:23-25).
  2. Very few remember the moment or day they trusted Christ as Savior; but what is important is that each Christian know that he/she is trusting Christ now.
  3. Doubting the faithfulness of God casts a shadow of doubt over our salvation. “This state of mind is usually caused by looking for a change in their feelings rather than looking to the faithfulness of Christ. Feelings and experiences have their place; but, as stated before, the final evidence of personal salvation, which is unchanged by these, is the truthfulness of God. What He has said, He will do, and it is not pious or commendable for a person to distrust his salvation after having definitely cast himself upon Christ.”[3]
  4. Assurance of salvation depends on understanding the nature of God’s complete salvation in Christ.[4]

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 212.

[2] These modified points are taken from Major Bible Themes, pages 214-216.

[3] Chafer & Walvoord; Major Bible Themes, 217-218.

[4] These modified points are taken from Major Bible Themes, pages 216-218.

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Lesson 31 - Sanctification

January 14, 2018

     Sanctification (Heb. קָדָשׁ qadash & Grk. ἅγιος hagios) means to be set apart for sacred use. In Scripture, it refers both to people (Ex. 29:21; 1 Cor. 1:2) and objects (Ex. 29:37). There are three aspects to sanctification with regard to persons:

  1. Positional sanctification (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). In this sense, “Every born-again person is as much a saint the moment he is saved as he ever will be in time or eternity. The whole church which is His body is a called-out, separate people; they are the saints of this dispensation.”[1] Positional sanctification does not imply sinless perfection. The Christians at Corinth were regarded as “saints by calling” (1 Cor. 1:2), yet they were by no means perfect. They were guilty of childish quarrels (1 Cor. 1:11), carnality (1 Cor. 3:1-3), tolerating sinful behavior (1 Cor. 5:1-2), and selfishness and drunkenness (1 Cor. 11:17-21). (Read page 206-207)
  2. Experiential sanctification (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Here, the believer chooses to walk closer to God, in conformity with His will. Our experiential sanctification starts with our union with Christ (1 Cor. 1:2, 30), and increases by the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:2), by our choice (Rom. 6:19; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; cf. 2 Tim. 2:21-22), by our submission (Rom. 12:1-2), by our growth (Eph. 4:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18), and as we learn and live God’s Word by faith (Ps. 119:9-11; John 17:17).
  3. Ultimate sanctification occurs when God transfers us to heaven—removing our sin nature—to spend eternity with Him (Eph. 5:26-27; cf. Jude 1:24-25).

The Means of Sanctification

     God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all holy, eternally sanctified, set apart from sin. God the Father sanctifies us (1 Thess. 5:23), God the Son sanctifies us (Eph. 5:25-26), and God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us (2 Thess. 2:13). People may sanctify God (Matt. 6:9; 1 Pet. 3:15), and sanctify themselves (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).

Steps to Sanctification

  1. The Christian must be in daily submission to God (Rom. 6:11-13; 12:1-2). 
  2. The believer must be in continual study of Scripture, applying it to every aspect of his/her life (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). The Christian cannot live what he does not know, and learning Scripture necessarily precedes living in God’s will. 
  3. The Christian must learn to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). To be filled with the Spirit does not mean we have more of the Spirit at one time and less at another; rather, it means the Spirit is fulfilling in us all that He desires, and that we allow Him to guide our thoughts, words, and actions.
  4. The Christian must learn to walk in daily dependence on the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25). Walking by the Spirit means we are walking in dependence on Him and not relying on our own resources, experiences, or human wisdom. It means we are walking in the same direction He is, and like a friend, we are glad to be in fellowship with Him. It means God is regularly in our thoughts, and we live every day conscious of Him and His will for our lives (Rom. 12:1-2; Col. 3:16-17). It means being sensitive to what may offend Him, and making every effort to please Him through a life of faith (2 Cor. 5:9; Heb. 11:6). It is important to understand that the Spirit guides us Biblically and never by vague impressions. Walking by the Spirit is a learned behavior, and it gets easier with practice. 
  5. The Christian must restore broken fellowship with God through confession of personal sin (1 John 1:5-9). It is never the will of God that we sin (1 John 2:1); however, when we do sin, we break fellowship with God and grieve and/or quench the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19). Personal sin hinders our walk with God and halts the progress of our sanctification; however, confession of sin turns us around and gets us headed back in the right direction (1 John 1:9).
  6. The Christian must take advantage of the time God gives to learn and grow spiritually.  As Christians, we all start off as babes who need to feed on the milk of the word (1 Pet. 2:2; cf. Heb. 5:12), and as we grow spiritually, over time, we develop a taste for solid foods (Heb. 5:13-14). As we grow spiritually, we will maximize our time wisely. Paul exhorts Christians, “be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). To live wisely, according to Scripture, means knowing God’s will and having the skill to execute it. Making the most of our time means we seize every opportunity to live in God’s will.

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 203.

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Lesson 30 - Four Aspects of Righteousness

December 9, 2017

Four Aspects of Righteousness

  • "A vital difference between God and man which Scripture emphasizes is that God is righteous (1 John 1:5), while the fundamental charge against man as recorded in Romans 3:10 is that “there is none righteous, no, not one.” So also, one of the glories of divine grace is the fact that a perfect righteousness, likened to a spotless wedding garment, has been provided and is freely bestowed upon all who believe (Rom. 3:22)."[1]

God is Righteous

     “This righteousness of God is unchanging and unchangeable (Rom. 3:25-26). He is infinitely righteous in His own being and infinitely righteous in all His ways.”[2]

The Self-Righteousness of Man

     Scripture reveals everyone is corrupted by sin and guilty before God (Gen. 6:5; 1 Kings 8:46; Ps. 130:3; 143:2; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:9-23; 5:6-10, 12; Gal. 3:22; Eph. 2:1-3). 

The Imputed Righteousness of God

     Imputation is the Biblical teaching that one person can be charged/credited with something that rightfully belongs to another which is not originally his/her own. The word “imputation” is an accounting term used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3).  The Hebrew חָשַׁב chashab means “to impute, reckon to.”[3] The Greek λογίζομαι logizomai means “to determine by mathematical process, reckon, calculate, frequently in a transferred sense.”[4] Twice Paul uses the Greek word ἐλλογέω ellogeo (Rom. 5:13; Phm. 1:18), which means, “to charge with a financial obligation, charge to the account of someone.”[5] Paul tells his friend, Philemon, concerning his runaway slave Onesimus, “if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge [ἐλλογέω ellogeo] that to my account” (Phm. 1:18). Here, Paul is saying that he will pay for any wrongful actions committed by Onesimus. 

     In Scripture there are three major imputations that concern our relationship with God:  First is the imputation of Adam’s original sin to every member of the human race (Rom. 5:12-13; cf. 1 Cor. 15:21-22). This means that every biological descendant of Adam is charged/credited with the sin he committed in the Garden of Eden which plunged the human race into spiritual death. Jesus is the only exception, for though He is truly human (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:23-38), He was born without original sin, without a sin nature, and committed no personal sin during His time on earth (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Second is the imputation of all sin to Jesus on the cross (Isa. 53:1-12; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:21-24; 1 John 2:2). God the Father judged Jesus in our place (Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:6-10; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:18), cancelling our sin debt by the death of Christ (Col. 2:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:18-19). Third is the imputation of God’s righteousness to those who believe in Jesus for salvation (Rom. 4:3-5; 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:8-9). God’s imputed righteousness, not human works, is the basis for divine acceptance.

Righteousness Imparted by the Spirit

     “When filled with the Spirit, the child of God will produce the righteous works (Rom. 8:4) of the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:22-23) and will manifest the gifts for service which are by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:7). These results are distinctly said to be due to the immediate working of the Spirit in and through the believer.”[6] The Christian is called to a life of righteousness, which means he/she thinks and lives in conformity with God’s commands (Tit. 2:11-14). Obedience to God is impossible in the energy of the flesh; however, the believer who surrenders his/her life to God (Rom. 12:1-2), learns His Word (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17), is filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), walks by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), regularly confesses his/her sin (1 John 1:9), lives by faith (2 Cor. 5:9; Heb. 11:6), and uses time wisely (Eph. 5:15-16), will glorify God through a righteous life.  

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 197.

[2] Ibid., 197.

[3] Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson, et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 360.

[4] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 597.

[5] Ibid., 319.

[6] Chafer; Walvoord; Major Bible Themes, 201

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Lesson 29 - Salvation From the Power of Sin

December 9, 2017

The Problem of Sin in the Life of a Christian

     The sin nature, sometimes called “the flesh” (Gal. 5:17, 19) or “old self” (Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9), is not eradicated from the believer during his time on earth, nor is it ever reformed, as though it can be made to love God. Because the sin nature is not removed from the believer after salvation, the believer experiences conflict within (Rom. 7:18-23; Gal. 5:16-26). Only the Christian has two opposing natures, and his spiritual growth guarantees internal conflict. The sin nature, though crippled at the moment of regeneration, does not give up control without a fight, and only the spiritually advancing Christian can overcome the power and habits of the flesh, as he devotes himself to learning and living Scripture and to walk by means of the Spirit.

Law as a Rule of Life

     The Mosaic Law functioned as the rule of life for God’s people living in a theocratic system. The Mosaic Law is typically viewed in three parts: 1) the moral law consisting of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:2-17; Deut. 5:6-21), 2) the civil law which addressed slavery, property rights, economics, etc., (Ex. 21:1–24:18) and, 3) the ceremonial law which addressed the tabernacle, priests, worship and the sacrificial system as a whole (Ex. 25:1–40:38). The Mosaic Law has been fulfilled by Christ (Matt. 5:17-18) and rendered inoperative as a rule of life for Christians (Rom. 8:2-5; 10:4; 2 Cor. 3:7, 11; Heb. 8:13).

Grace as a Rule of Life

     Paul made clear that the Mosaic Law is not the rule of life for the Christian. He even referred to it as a ministry of “death” and “condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:5-11). Paul stated that it was intended to be temporary (Gal. 3:19), that it was never the basis for justification (Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:21; cf. Rom. 4:1-5), but was intended to lead men to Christ that they may be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24). “As a rule of life, the Law of Moses was temporary … [and] came to an end with the death of the Messiah.”[1]

     The church-age believer is “no longer under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14; cf. Gal. 5:1-4). Being under the grace-system does not mean the believer is without law and can therefore sin as he pleases (Rom. 6:14-16; Titus 2:11-12). The New Testament speaks of “the perfect law of liberty” (Jam. 1:25), “the royal law” (Jam. 2:8), the “Law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), and “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2). 

     The Christian is commanded to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:14). He must not only choose to live according to the new nature in conformity to the Spirit’s guiding, but must also learn to starve his sin nature. To “make no provision for the flesh” means the Christian is to stop exposing himself to the things of the world that excite the flesh and lead to sinful behavior. The positive action is to grow spiritually with biblical teaching, Christian fellowship, worship and prayer so that the believer grows to maturity (Acts 2:42; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). It is only by spiritual growth and drawing closer to God that the Christian glorifies the Lord and learns to live in righteousness. It is a life of faith in God and His Word. 

 Victory by the Holy Spirit

     First, the victorious life starts with regeneration (1 Pet. 1:3, 23), as the believer is made alive in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). Second, the Christian must live in submission to God and be willing to seek His will above all else (Rom. 12:1-2). Third, he/she must be in continual study of God’s Word, applying it to every aspect of life (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). Fourth, he/she must be filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and walking in dependence on Him (Gal. 5:16, 21). Fifth, he/she must restore broken fellowship with God through confession of personal sin (1 John 1:5-9). Sixth, he/she must see trials as opportunities to grow (Rom. 5:1-3; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Jam. 1:2-4). Seventh, he/she must take advantage of the time God gives to learn and grow spiritually (Eph. 5:15-17; cf. Heb. 5:12; 1 Pet. 1:17; 4:1-2).

 

[1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, CA., Ariel Ministries, 2001), 373-374.

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Lesson 28 - Salvation From the Penalty of Sin

December 2, 2017

Salvation From the Penalty of Sin

     The most common word for salvation in the Hebrew OT is יָשַׁע yasha (sometimes as יְשׁוּעָה yeshua) which means “deliverance, rescue, salvation, also safety, [and] welfare.”[1] Salvation in the OT was primarily physical, as one might be delivered from his enemy in battle or from a plague (2 Sam. 22:3-4; 1 Chron. 16:23, 35; Job 5:4, 11; Ps. 3:6-8; 44:4-8; 85:7, 9; 89:26; Isa. 17:10; 45:8; Mic. 7:7). In the NT the Greek verb σῴζω sozo refers to the act of physical deliverance in some biblical passages Matt. 8:25; 14:30; Mark 13:20; Luke 6:9; John 11:12; Acts 27:20, 31), and spiritual deliverance in others (Luke 7:50; 19:10; John 12:47; 1 Cor. 1:21; Tit. 3:5; Heb. 7:25).

Salvation as God’s Remedy for Sin

  1. Sin is always equally sinful whether it be committed by the heathen or the civilized, the unregenerate or the regenerate (Rom. 3:9-10; Gal. 3:22).[2]
  2. Sin can be cured only on the ground of the shed blood of the Son of God (Eph. 1:7; Col 1:13-14).

Salvation Before and After the Cross

  1. The divine method of dealing with sin before the cross is said to have been by atonement, which word, in its biblical use, means simply “to cover.” The animal sacrifices were a temporary covering for sin, but did not remove sin (Heb. 10:4).[3]
  2. The divine method of dealing with sin since the cross is stated in Romans 3:26. Christ has died. Jesus death on the cross did not cover sin; but rather, took it away (John 1:29; 2:13-14; Heb. 10:4; 1 John 3:5).

The Three Tenses of Salvation

  1. The past tense of salvation is revealed in certain passages which, when speaking of salvation, refer to it as being wholly past, or completed for the one who has believed (Eph. 2:4-9). So perfect is this divine work that the saved one is said to be safe forever (John 5:24; 10:27-28; Rom. 8:1).[4]
  2. The present tense of salvation…has to do with present salvation from the reigning power of sin (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15; cf. 2:12-13).
  3. The future tense of salvation contemplates that the believer will yet be saved into full conformity to Christ (Rom. 13:11; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; cf. 1 John 3:2).

Salvation as the Finished Work of Christ

Jesus’ death is sufficient for all (John 3:16; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2), but effective only for those who believe in Him as Savior (Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13-14).

Salvation as the Saving Work of God

  • The saving work of God which is accomplished the moment one believes includes various phases of God’s gracious work: redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, forgiveness, regeneration, imputation, justification, sanctification, perfection, glorification. By it we are made fit to be partakers of the inheritance of saints (Col. 1:12), made accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6), made the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), made near to God (Eph. 2:13), made sons of God (John 1:12), made citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), made a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), made members of the family and household of God (Eph. 2:19; 3:15), and made complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).[5]

Salvation as Related to the Sin of the Saved

  1. The forgiveness of sin is accomplished for the sinner when he believes upon Christ and is a part of his salvation.[6]
  2. In the divine dealing with the sins of the Christian, it is the sin question alone that is in view, and the Christian’s sin is forgiven, not on the ground of believing unto salvation, but on the ground of confessing the sin (1 John 1:9).

Salvation Conditioned on Faith Alone

  • "In the New Testament in about 115 passages, the salvation of a sinner is declared to depend only upon believing and in about 35 passages to depend on faith, which is a synonym for believing. By believing an individual wills to trust Christ. It is an act of the whole man, not just his intellect or his emotion. While intellectual assent is not of real faith, and merely a stirring of the emotions is short of faith, believing is a definite act in which the individual wills to receive Christ by faith."[7]

 

[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 447.

[2] These points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, 182.

[3] These points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, 183.

[4] These points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, 184.

[5] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 185.

[6] These points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, 186.

[7] Chafer; Walvoord, Major Bible Themes, 187.

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Lesson 27 - Sin: It’s Character and Universality

December 2, 2017

     The word sin is found throughout Scripture, and both the Hebrew and Greek share the same basic meaning. The Hebrew word חָטָא chata means “to miss the target, or to lose the way,”[1] and the Greek word ἁμαρτάνω hamartano is defined as “miss the mark, err, or do wrong.”[2] In Judges 20:16 the Hebrew word is used of skilled soldiers who do not miss their target, and in Proverbs 19:2 of a man who hurries and misses his way.[3] Sin is when we transgress God’s law and depart from His intended path. The apostle John states, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). “The teaching of Scripture is that sin is any want of conformity to the character of God, whether it be an act, disposition, or state.”[4]

  • "The underlying idea of sin is that of law and of a lawgiver. The lawgiver is God. Hence sin is everything in the disposition and purpose and conduct of God’s moral creatures that is contrary to the expressed will of God (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; James 4:12, 17). The sinfulness of sin lies in the fact that it is against God, even when the wrong we do is to others or ourselves (Gen. 39:9; Ps. 51:4)."[5]

     God permits sin, but is never the author of it. Sin is the expression of a creaturely will that is set against God. The sin we commit may be mental, verbal, or physical. It may be private or public, impacting one or many, with short or lasting results.

     Biblically, every person is a sinner in God’s sight. Jesus is the single exception.[6] We are sinners in Adam (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom. 7:18-21; Gal. 5:17; Eph. 2:1-3; 4:22-24), and sinners by choice (1 Kings 8:46; Prov. 20:9; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:9-23). Sin separates us from God and renders us helpless to merit God’s approval. We are helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom. 5:6-10; Eph. 2:1-3).

 

[1] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 305.

[2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 49.

[3] G. Herbert Livingston, “638 חָטָא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 277.

[4] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 178.

[5] Merrill F. Unger and E. McChesney, “Sin,” ed. R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 1198.

[6] Jesus, because of His divine nature (John 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9), and the virgin conception (Isa. 7:14; Luke 1:30-35), is the only person ever born without sin and who committed no sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5).

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Lesson 26 - Man: His Fall

November 11, 2017
  • "The early chapters of Genesis record the fall into sin by Adam and Eve. The various interpretations of this record either take it as a literal event explaining the sinfulness of the human race or attempt to explain it away as unhistorical or a myth. The orthodox interpretation, however, is that the event took place exactly as recorded in Scripture, and this is the way it is treated in the rest of the Bible."[1]

Adam Before the Fall

     Adam and Eve were created sinless and placed in the perfect environment God prepared for them. After their initial creation, God had declared everything “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The coupled represented the human race at that time. Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God introduced sin into the human race (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22).

     The record of Adam and Eve’s sin is set forth in Genesis 3:1-7. Satan, in the form of the serpent, approached Adam and Eve and enticed them to rebel against the only negative command God gave them, not to eat of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17). Satan’s enticement started with a question about what God said (Gen. 3:1), which implied God was withholding some good thing from them. Eve’s reply modified God’s Word. “Eve in her reply fell into Satan’s trap by leaving out the word ‘freely’ in God’s permission to eat of the trees of the garden, and she left out also the word ‘surely’ in God’s warning. The natural tendency of man to minimize God’s goodness and to magnify His strictness are familiar characteristics of human experience ever since.”[2] Satan’s question to Eve turned to an outright contradiction in which he told her, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4-5). The Bible then states, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:6).

Adam After the Fall

Adam and Eve’s sin resulted in far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.

  1. They became subject to both physical and spiritual death (Gen. 2:17).[3]
  2. God’s judgment also fell upon Satan, and the serpent was condemned to crawl on the ground (Gen. 3:14-15).
  3. A special judgment also fell on Eve, who would experience pain in giving birth to children and would be required to submit to her husband (Gen. 3:16).
  4. A special curse fell on Adam, and he was assigned to the hard labor of bringing forth from the soil, now cursed with thorns and thistles, the necessary food for his continued existence (Gen. 3:17-19). Sin also impacted the entire creation (Rom. 8:22).

The Effects of Adam’s Sin Upon the Race

     The sin of Adam and Eve brought immediate spiritual death, which means their relationship with God was severed. By grace, God restored their relationship by providing a sacrifice and covering, which they accepted (Gen. 3:21). However, Adam and Eve would live out their days with a fallen nature and in a fallen world. Adam’s sinful nature would pass to all his descendants and the effects of sin would become more and more obvious as time progressed. In Scripture we learn about several important imputations that concern our relationship with God: First is the imputation of Adam’s original sin to every member of the human race (Gen. 5:3; Rom. 5:12-14; cf. 1 Cor. 15:21-22). This means that every biological descendant of Adam is charged with the sin he committed in the Garden of Eden which plunged the human race into spiritual death. Jesus is the only exception, for though He is truly human (Matt. 1:1; Luke 3:23-38), He was born without original sin, without a sin nature, and committed no personal sin during His time on earth (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Second is the imputation of all sin to Jesus on the cross (Isa. 53:5; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 Pet. 2:21-24). Here, God the Father took every sin of every person and imputed it to Christ while He was on the cross (John 3:16; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2). God the Father judged Jesus in our place (Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:6-10; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:18), cancelling our sin debt by the death of Christ (Col. 2:13-14; 2 Cor. 5:18-19). Third is the imputation of God’s righteousness to those who believe in Jesus for salvation (Rom. 4:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:8-9).

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 171.

[2] Ibid., 173.

[3] These four points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, pages 173-174.

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Lesson 25 - Man: His Creation

November 11, 2017

Man as a Created Being

  • "Discovering himself in the midst of a wonderful universe and being the highest order of its physical creatures, man would naturally seek to understand his own origin as well as the origin of all existing things. Because nature does not reveal the creation of man and tradition would not be a reliable source of information, it is reasonable to expect that God would reveal the essential facts about man’s creation in the Bible. In the early chapters of Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible, the creation of man is clearly taught in Scripture."[1]

     Apart from divine revelation, man has no ability to know his origin and speculations abound. The idea of evolution through natural selection—survival of the fittest—is the most prominent and prevalent theory today. Some hold to theistic-evolution, holding that God used the evolution of natural process to create man. But this denies the biblical record which plainly states God created the whole universe in six days (Gen. 1:1-31; Ex. 20:11; 31:17; Ps. 33:6; Neh. 9:6; Acts 17:24), and created man in His image (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; Deut. 4:32; Isa. 45:12; Matt. 19:4; Jam. 3:9). Mankind is God’s crowning creation, which He authorized to rule over His work (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8:3-9). God created the universe and earth in six literal days and created everything with the appearance of age.

The Nature of Man

     The creation account reveals that man was created with both material and immaterial qualities (Gen. 2:7; Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; 2 Cor. 4:16). The immaterial parts of man—soul and spirit—are sometimes used interchangeably (John 12:27 and 13:21), and sometimes distinguished (1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 4:12).

     There are two major views of the continued creation of man: 1) the Traducian theory believes that the body and soul are passed from parent to child at conception (Gen. 5:3; Heb. 7:9-10), and 2) the Creation theory argues that our body comes from our parents, but God creates each new human soul at conception and imputes it to the biological life in the womb (Ps. 100:3; Eccl. 12:7).

     The body is the residence of the soul (Gen. 2:7), which is removed at physical death (Eccl. 12:7; 2 Cor. 5:1-8). The body is also where the sin nature resides, in both saved and unsaved persons (Rom. 7:17-20). And, the body of the Christian is also the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 165.

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Lesson 24 - Satan: His Work and Destinty

November 5, 2017

     “Two errors regarding Satan are current, and since he alone is benefited by them it is reasonable to conclude that he is the author of them.”[1]

  1. Many believe that Satan does not really exist and that the supposed person of Satan is no more than an evil principle, or influence, which is in man and in the world.[2] Scripture reveals Satan as a real person with all the capacities of personhood, such as intelligence, volition and feelings.
  2. Likewise, others believe the error that Satan is the direct cause of sin in every person. Scripture reveals people produce sin and are held responsible for it ( 2:16-17; 3:1-7; 6:5; Mark 7:20-23; Jam. 1:13-15).

The Work of Satan

     "Isaiah 14:12-17 is only one of the many passages bearing on the work of Satan. This passage reveals Satan’s original and supreme purpose. He would ascend into heaven, exalt his throne above the stars of God, and be like the most High. To this end he will use his unmeasured wisdom and power; he will weaken the nations, make the earth to tremble, make the world as a wilderness, destroy the cities thereof, and refuse to release his prisoners. Though every phrase of this passage is a startling disclosure, two in particular may be noted."[3]

  1. The expression “I will be like the most High” (v. 14) indicates the supreme motive that guides all his activities after the fall.[4] (Read page 162)
  2. The expression that He “opened not the house of his prisoners” (Isa. 14:17) seems to refer to Satan’s present power over unsaved people as well as his incapacity to help them in their eternal judgment. Those who are born into this world are born into Satan’s system, which is a place of slavery. It is a kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13), where men are held captive (2 Tim. 2:26), and said to be blinded to the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4). (read page 162-163)

The Destiny of Satan

     “As the Word of God is explicit regarding the origin of Satan, so it is explicit regarding his career and destiny. Five progressive judgments of Satan are to be distinguished.”[5]

  1. Satan’s moral fall, with its necessary separation from God, is clearly indicated, although the time in the dateless past is not disclosed (Ezek. 28:15; 1 Tim. 3:6).[6]
  2. A perfect judgment of Satan has been secured through the Cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:14, 15), but the execution of that sentence is yet future. This sentence with its execution was predicted in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15).
  3. Satan will be cast out of heaven. In the midst of the coming Tribulation and as a result of a war in heaven, Satan will be cast out of heaven and be limited to the earth. He will then act in great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time to continue ( 12:7-12. Note also, Isa. 14:12; Luke 10:18).
  4. Satan will be confined to the abyss. For the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth, Satan will be sealed in the abyss, after which he must be loosed for a “little season” ( 20:1-3, 7). The purpose of putting him in the abyss is to make it impossible for him to be active and to continue deceiving the nations.
  5. Satan’s final doom will come at the close of the millennium. Having promoted an open rebellion against God during the “little season,” Satan is then cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever ( 20:10).

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 161.

[2] Ibid., 161.

[3] Ibid., 162.

[4] These two points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, page 162.

[5] Ibid., 163.

[6] These five points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes, pages 163-164.

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Lesson 23 - Satan: His Personality and Power

November 5, 2017

     The name Satan is derived from the Hebrew שָׂטָן Satan (Job 1:6) and the Greek Σατανᾶς Satanas (Matt. 4:10). Both words mean adversary. Other names include the shining one, or Lucifer (Isa. 14:12), the evil one (1 John 5:19), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), the devil (Matt. 4:1), the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the serpent (Rev. 12:9), the great red dragon (Rev. 12:3), and the angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

The Personality of Satan

     Satan was a created person (Col. 1:16; cf. Ezek. 28:11-18).[1] Satan exercises all the functions of a person. 1) He has volition (Isa. 14:12-14), 2) he practices deception (Gen. 3:1-15; 2 Cor. 11:13-15), 3) he interacts with God (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-13; Luke 22:31-33; Rev. 12:10) and people (Eph. 6:10-12; 1 Pet. 5:8), 4) he interacts with Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11), 5) he has well developed strategies of warfare against Christians, which strategies display his personality (Eph. 6:10-12). “There is no mention in Scripture of a warfare by Satan against the unregenerate; they are his own and therefore under his authority (John 8:44; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19).”[2]

The Power of Satan

     “Though morally fallen and now judged in the Cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Col. 2:15), Satan has not lost his position, and he has lost but little of his power. His power both as to personal strength and authority is disclosed in two forms.”[3]

  1. “His personal strength cannot be estimated. He possesses the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5-6), had the power of death (Heb. 2:14), which now belongs to Christ (Rev. 1:18). He had the power over sickness with Job (Job 2:7), and was able to sift Peter as wheat (Luke 22:31). He is said “to have weakened the nations, to have made the earth to tremble, to have shaken kingdoms, to have made the earth a wilderness, destroying the cities thereof, and not to have opened the house of his prisoners (Isa. 14:12-17).” Even Michael, the Archangel, does not contend with Satan (Jude 1:9), but the believer has victory through the Sprit and the blood of Christ (Eph. 6:10-12; Rev. 12:10-11).”[4]
  2. “Satan is aided by demons. As a creature, Satan is confined in his abilities and relies on numerous fallen angels who carry out his will.”[5] (Read pages 158-159)

[1] These abbreviated points are taken from Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 156-158.

[2] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 158.

[3] Ibid., 158.

[4] Ibid., 158.

[5] Ibid., 158.

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Lesson 22 - The Angels

October 14, 2017

The Nature of Angels

     The word angel translates the Hebrew word מַלְאָךְ malak and the Greek word ἄγγελος aggelos, and both words mean messenger.  Thirty-four books of Bible teach the existence of angels. The word angel occurs approximately 275 times throughout Scripture. Angels are created beings (Col. 1:16), were present at the creation of the world (Job 38:4-7), have volition (Matt. 8:28-32), emotion (Mark 1:23-26), and intelligence (1 Pet. 1:12). Angels are spirit beings (Heb. 1:14), are distinct from humans (Mark 1:23-26), do not reproduce after their kind (Mark 12:25), have great power (2 Peter 2:11; cf. Dan. 10:1-21), and are innumerable (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 5:11).

     God has organized angels into different classes. Michael is the only one named as an Archangel (Jude 1:9), although some are classified as chief princes (Dan. 10:13), some as rulers (Eph. 3:10), and some as guardian angels (Matt. 18:10; Heb. 1:14). Seraphim—who have six wings—appear to be devoted to the worship of God (Isa. 6:1-3), whereas Cherubim—who have four wings—are devoted to protecting the Lord’s holiness (Ezek. 10:19-21).

Unfallen Angels

     Angels are classified as either fallen or unfallen. The former retain their holy state and service to God, whereas the latter have defected from their original place and continue in constant rebellion against God. The following categories of angels are noted in Scripture:

  1. Michael the archangel is the head of all the holy angels and his name means “who is like unto God” (Dan. 10:21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7-10).[1]
  2. Gabriel is one of the principal messengers of God, his name meaning “hero of God.” He was entrusted with important messages such as those delivered to Daniel (Dan. 8:16; 9:21), the message to Zacharias (Luke 1:18-19), and the message to the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-38).
  3. Most angels are not given individual names but are described as elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21). This introduces the interesting thought that like saved men who are declared to be chosen or elected, the holy angels likewise were divinely appointed.
  4. The expressions “principalities” and “powers” seem to be used of all angels whether fallen or unfallen (Luke 21:26; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; Col. 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1 Pet. 3:22). There is unceasing warfare between the holy angels and the fallen angels for control of men in history.
  5. Some angels are designated “cherubim,” living creatures who defend God’s holiness from any defilement of sin (Gen. 3:24; Exod. 25:18, 20; Ezek. 1:1-18). Satan, the head of fallen angels, was originally created holy for this purpose also (Ezek. 28:14). Angelic figures in the form of cherubim were made of gold overlooking the mercy seat of the ark and the Holy of Holies in both the Tabernacle and the Temple.
  6. Seraphim are mentioned only once in the Bible in Isaiah 6:2-7. They are described as having three pairs of wings, apparently have the function of praising God and being God’s messengers to earth, and are especially concerned with the holiness of God.
  7. The term “angel of Jehovah” is found frequently in the Old Testament to refer to appearances of Christ in the form of an angel. The title belongs only to God and is used in connection with the divine manifestations in the earth, and therefore it is in no way to be included in the angelic hosts (Gen. 18:1-19:29; 22:11-12; 31:11-13; 32:24-32; 48:15-16; Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 13:19-22; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chron. 21:12-30; Ps. 34:7).

Fallen Angels

     Fallen angels are commonly referred to in Scripture as demons. Some are imprisoned (Jude 6; Rev. 9:1-16), and others are free. Demons that are free are said to possess intelligence, emotion and volition.  During the time of Christ, they were able to identify Him as the Son of God (Matt. 8:29a), and they knew their future fate (Matt. 8:29b). Satan and demons attempt to frustrate the purpose of God (Matt. 4:1-11; cf. Dan. 10:10-14; Rev. 16:13-16). Demons can possess the bodies of men (Luke 11:24-26), and sometimes cause physical disease (Matt. 9:32-33). 

The Ministry of Holy Angels

Holy angels are those who have remained loyal to God and continue in His service.  (Read pages 154-155)

[1] These seven points are taken verbatim from Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 152-153.

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Lesson 21 - The Covenants

October 14, 2017
  • "The Bible discloses the fact that human history is the fulfillment of an eternal purpose of God. God’s eternal plan is revealed in Scripture and centers in solemn covenants or promises which God has made. At least eight biblical covenants are recorded, and they incorporate the most important facts relating to God’s plan and purpose in the world. Most of these covenants are in the form of a declaration of divine purpose which will certainly be fulfilled. In addition to the biblical covenants, theologians have advanced three theological covenants especially relating to the salvation of man."[1]

The Theological Covenants

  1. The Covenant of Redemption. It is claimed this covenant was made between God the Father and God the Son in eternity past in which the Son agreed to provide redemption for those who would believe (Eph. 1:4, 11).
  2. The Covenant of Works. It is argued that God made a covenant with Adam in the Garden in which God promised eternal life and blessing if Adam remained obedient (Gen. 2:17).
  3. The Covenant of Grace. Here, God offers His Son as a solution for sin and provides salvation by grace to those who will believe (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 2:8-9).

     Covenant theology is a framework for making sense of Scripture. These three covenants are commonly held by Covenant Theologians who believe God’s primary purpose in history is to provide salvation for fallen people. (Read page 141).

The Biblical Covenants

     The Bible reveals several biblical covenants. The word covenant translates the Hebrew בְּרִית berith and Greek διαθήκη diatheke. The Hebrew בְּרִית berith means an “agreement, covenant, or contract.”[2] The Greek διαθήκη diatheke means “last will, covenant, contract.”[3] Both words refer to a binding agreement between two parties. There are six explicitly named covenants in Scripture (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian (Land), Davidic, and New Covenant), and two that are implied (the Edenic and Adamic).  These covenants are either bilateral or unilateral.  A bilateral covenant makes promises of blessing and cursing dependent on the obedience of the recipient (Gen. 2:16-17; Deut. 28).  A unilateral covenant meant that God blessed the recipient unconditionally.  These covenants are here listed:

  1. The Edenic Covenant (bilateral - Gen. 1:26-31; 2:16-17).
  2. The Adamic Covenant (unilateral - Gen. 3:15-19; cf. Hos. 6:7).[4]
  3. The Noahic Covenant (unilateral - Gen. 6:18; 9:1-18).
  4. The Abrahamic Covenant (unilateral - Gen. 12:1-4; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-11; cf. Gen. 26:2-5; 28:10-15; Ex. 2:24; 3:6-8; Josh. 1:2-6; 2 Ki. 13:23; 1 Chron. 16:15-22; Ps. 105:3-15; Neh. 9:5-10).
  5. Mosaic Covenant (bilateral - Exodus 19:5, 8; 20:1-31:18; Deut. 4:13; Gal. 3:16-19).
  6. The Palestinian/Land Covenant (unilateral - Deut. 29:1; 30:1-10).
  7. Davidic Covenant (unilateral - 2 Sam. 7:14-16; 89:3-4, 28-29; Luke 1:30-33).
  8. The New Covenant (unilateral - 31:31-34; 32:37-41; Ezek. 36:26-27; 37:21-28; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6-7; Heb. 8:8-13; 9:15; 12:24).

     Some of the biblical covenants have signs.  For example, the sign of the Noahic Covenant has the sign of the rainbow (Gen. 9:13-16; Ezek. 1:28; Rev. 4:3; 10:1), the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant is circumcision (Gen. 17:11; cf. Gal. 5:1-4), the sign of the Mosaic Covenant is the Sabbath (Ex. 31:12-17), and the sign of the New Covenant is the red wine/juice (Jer. 31:31-34; cf. Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6-7; Heb. 8:8-13; 9:15; 12:24).

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 139.

[2] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 157–158.

[3] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 228.

[4] The word “covenant” is not used either for the Edenic or Adamic covenants; however, the language is similar to that of a covenant. 

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Lesson 20 - The Dispensations

October 7, 2017

The Meaning of Dispensations

     The word dispensation (in the KJV) is a translation of the Greek word οἰκονομία oikonomia which means a stewardship or administration (Luke 16:2-4; 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2, 9; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4), and may be generally defined as a “state of being arranged, arrangement, order, plan.”[1] The Greek word οἰκονόμος oikonomos refers to a steward who manages household affairs (Luke 12:42; 16:1, 8; Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 4:1-2), Pastors who supervise the local church (Tit. 1:7), and Christians who supervise their spiritual gift (1 Pet. 4:10). “A dispensation can be defined as a stage in the progressive revelation of God constituting a distinctive stewardship or rule of life.”[2] There are seven commonly identified dispensations in the Bible:

  1. Innocence (Adam and Eve – Gen. 1:28-3:6).
  2. Conscience (Fall to Flood – Gen. 3:6-8:22).
  3. Government (Noah to Abraham – Gen. 9:1-11:32).
  4. Promise (Abraham to Moses – Gen. 12:1-Ex. 19:25).
  5. Law (Israel to Church – Ex. 20:1-Acts 2:1).
  6. Grace (Church to Rapture – Acts 2:1-Rev. 3:22).
  7. Millennial kingdom (reign of Jesus to eternity – Rev. 19:11-20:6).

     The sine qua non[3] of dispensational theology includes: 1) a doxological view of history in which the manifestation of God’s glory is primary, 2) a distinction between Israel and the Church, and 3) a consistent literal method of interpretation in which the Christian reads the Bible in a plain manner.[4]

     With each dispensation, God gave specific commands to His people that they might live in righteous conformity to His expectations. The commands God gave to Adam and Eve are different than the ones He gave to Noah, and Abraham, Moses, and the Christian. God established laws for His people in each dispensation. Sometimes there was continuity of law from one dispensation to the next (i.e. 9 of the 10 commandments are restated in the NT), and sometimes discontinuity (i.e. Christians are not obligated to keep the Sabbath). 

  • "Adam lived under laws, the sum of which may be called the code of Adam or the code of Eden. Noah was expected to obey the laws of God, so there was a Noahic code. We know that God revealed many commands and laws to Abraham (Gen. 26:5). They may be called the Abrahamic code. The Mosaic code contained all the laws of the Law. And today we live under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2) or the law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2). This code contains the hundreds of specific commandments recorded in the New Testament."[5]

     Though both are the people of God, there are biblical distinctions between God’s expectations to Israel and His expectations to the Church.  For example, Israel had a priesthood that was specific to Aaron and the tribe of Levi (Num. 3:6-10), whereas in the Church age, all Christians are priests to God (Rev. 1:5-6).  Israel’s worship was tied to the Tabernacle and later the Temple (Ex. 40:18-38; 2 Chron. 8:14-16), but Christians gather locally, wherever they wish, and their body is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20; cf. Col. 4:15).  Israel was required to offer animal sacrifices to God (Lev. 4:1-35), but Christians are called to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5; cf. Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15).  Israelites were required to tithe from the produce of their land (Deut. 14:22-23; 28-29; Num. 18:21), but God requires no tithe from Christians, only a joyful attitude when giving, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).  Under the Mosaic Law, God demanded punishment for sin and some sins were punishable by death.  Sometimes God Himself executed the punishment (Lev. 10:1-3; 2 Sam. 6:1-7), and other times it was carried out by Israel’s leaders (Ex. 32:19-28).  In the Church age, God does not call Christians to put anyone to death, but has delegated that authority solely to the governments of this world (Rom. 13:1-4), or He does it Himself (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16).

 

[1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 697.

[2] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 126.

[3] The sine qua non refers to that which is essential or indispensable.

[4] Plain interpretation means the Christian interprets the words and phrases of Scripture according to the normal rules of grammar, identifying the meaning of words and phrases according to their contextual and historical usage, and considering each verse in the light of its immediate context, as well as the larger context of the book and the Bible as a whole.

[5] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 351.

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Lesson 19 - God the Holy Spirit: His Filling

October 7, 2017

     Certain works of the Holy Spirit occur at the moment of salvation and are never repeated (i.e. regeneration, indwelling, sealing and baptizing). However, the filling of the Holy Spirit is a repeated experience to empower the Christian to live in God’s will. The word filled means to be under the guiding influence of something/someone. It is used of the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:8; 7:55; 9:17), but is also used of Satan and sinful attitudes (Acts 5:3, 17; 19:28-29). “The filling of the Spirit may be defined as a spiritual state where the Holy Spirit is fulfilling all that He came to do in the heart and life of the individual believer.”[1] All Christians are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Being filled does not mean we have more of the Spirit at one time and less at another; rather, it means the Spirit has more of us. The filling of the Holy Spirit is accomplished when the believer is yielded to Him and walking according to Scripture. (Read pages 115-116)

Conditions for the Filling of the Holy Spirit

  1. Do not quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The Greek word for quench is σβέννυμι sbennumi and has the basic idea of extinguishing a fire. Quenching the Spirit means suppressing His guidance by saying No.[2] Rather, the Christian is to yield himself to God in everything (Rom. 6:13; 12:1-2). (Read page 119-120)
  2. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30). The Greek word for grieve is λυπέω lupeo and the word means to distress or cause sorrow. The Spirit is grieved when the believer commits sin and continues in a state of unconfessed sin. Fellowship is restored when the Christian confesses his sin (1 John 1:9) and resumes his life of faith and walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). The believer who continues in a lifestyle of sin, continually quenching and grieving the Spirit, may find himself subject to divine discipline (Heb. 12:5-6).
  3. Walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). The word walk is a translation of the Greek word περιπατέω peripateo which has the idea of conduct or behavior. To walk in the Spirit means the Christian depends on the Spirit to guide his behavior according to Scripture. The Christian who walks in the Spirit will, over time, manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), and have a general attitude of praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:19-20; 1 Thess. 5:18). The growing Christian will face attacks from the world (Col. 2:8; Jas. 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16), the flesh (Gal. 5:17, 19-21a; Rom. 6:6; Col. 3:9), and the devil (2 Cor. 11:3; Jam. 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8).

The Results of the Filling of the Spirit

The Christian who is filled with the Spirit and walking in the Spirit will, over time, manifest certain characteristics in his/her life. Some of these characteristics include:

  1. An increase in the knowledge of God and His Word (John 16:12-14; cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-3:2).
  2. An advance toward spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:2).
  3. A regular display of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
  4. A strong assurance of his/her salvation (Rom. 8:16).
  5. An attitude of praise and thankfulness to God (Eph. 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 5:18).
  6. An active prayer life (1 Thess. 5:17; Eph. 6:18; Col. 4:2).
  7. The use of his/her spiritual gift for the benefit of others (1 Pet. 4:10; cf. Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-10).
  8. A life marked by faith (Rom. 1:17; 10:17; Heb. 11:6).
  9. The continual giving of the body for service to the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2). 
  10. The sacrifice of praise for worship (Heb. 13:15).
  11. The doing of good works and sharing with others (Heb. 13:16; cf. Phil. 4:18).
  12. The sacrifice of personal life for the benefit of others (Phil. 2:17; cf. Phil. 1:21-26; 2:3-4).
  13. The walk of sacrificial love (Eph. 5:1-2; cf. 1 Pet. 1:22).
  14. Confession of personal sin to God for restoration of fellowship (1 John 1:6-9).

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 115.

[2] Sometimes the Spirit will forbid a Christian from doing something that He later permits (Acts 16:6-7; 19:10).

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Lesson 18 - God the Holy Spirit: His Baptism

September 30, 2017

The Meaning of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

There are several references to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in Scripture (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 1 Cor. 12:13). The Greek word βαπτίζω baptizo means to place into, immerse, or identify with.

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit Before Pentecost

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not found in the Old Testament. The first mention of it occurs in the four Gospels (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33), and those occurrences, along with Acts 1:5, reveal the baptism of the Holy Spirit as future.

All Christians Baptized by the Spirit in the Present Age

All Christians are baptized by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Paul reveals, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Eph. 4:5; Gal. 3:26-28).

The Baptism of the Spirit Into the Body of Christ

“By Spirit baptism the believer is placed into the body of Christ in the living union of all true believers in the present age.”[1] The Lord adds to the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 4:4-6). (Read page 111)

The Baptism of the Spirit Into Christ

The believer is baptized into Christ and identified with His death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-28; Col. 2:12). This is an identification truth.

The Baptism of the Spirit Related to Spiritual Experience

The believer’s identification with Christ, by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is universal to all Christians, occurs instantaneously at the moment of faith in Christ, and is accepted by faith in God’s Word. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a fact and not a feeling.  

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer; John F. Walvoord; Major Bible Themes (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 2010), 110.

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