Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mark 9:41 comment: a simple act, a simple message


41 ¶ For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

While this is quite applicable to us spiritually, in this age, there is no man who can give a Christian a cup of water in Christ’s name who will be saved because of that work if he rejects Christ. But, here, a man is going to get a reward and not lose it for giving a cup of water to one of these Jewish apostles in Christ’s name.

It is interesting to note here the mention of not losing a reward. Think about this. In the verses before Christ has said not to stop a man who was not one of their company from doing miracles in Christ’s name. Here He talks about giving an Apostle a drink in Christ’s name. What reward is He talking about?

Much of the time in the Bible a reward is spoken of as a gift in exchange for something like loyalty or faithfulness. Take for instance, in this verse in 2 Samuel you recompense somebody with a reward.

2Samuel 19:36 Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king: and why should the king recompense it me with such a reward?

Jeremiah is given a reward along with food (victuals).

Jeremiah 40:5 Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.

So, in these two instances, a reward is gift. In its first mention in the Bible God is Abraham’s reward.

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

In the New Testament as well it appears to be a gift in return for faithfulness.

Matthew 10:41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

Several times in the Gospels a reward is mentioned. It would seem odd that mention is made of not losing one’s reward as if that was a danger. This is before the resurrection. He’s talking to Jews. The Jews were expecting physical blessings, a powerful kingdom, success and prosperity for belonging to God, for being His chosen people. They had heard the promises and they all knew from history how far Israel had fallen.

But, Christ introduces something new to their ears, to their understanding. Even a simple act of seemingly meaningless kindness to one of the Apostles doing Christ’s work would keep a Jew in God’s good graces. Even something as small as a cup of water in Christ’s name to one of Christ’s was enough for them to be in good standing with God. There is no demand for a great work, an expensive offering, an amazing feat of self sacrifice. There is only the promise that even a small act of kindness is good enough.

Think of the simplicity of Christ’s message. Remember, how He tells the Jews, how He defines what it means to work the works of God and how simple that is.

John 6;28 ¶ Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

You say, that doesn’t seem right. It’s too simple. It’s not complicated enough. Where is the spirituality garnered by spiritual exercises of the Medieval monk? What of the great soulwinners who labored for years to bring in thousands of converts? What about the great pulpiteers who could, like a Sophist of Greek times, make you cry or laugh with a word and drive men and women to their knees with a turn of a phrase?

And I say what about the common man or woman or child who doesn’t have the gift of making bright speeches and turning clever phrases, who works and lives and has no great vision of a ministry that encompasses the world?

Paul uses the term “good works” here in reference to an act of kindness. See how he refers to treating widows.

1 Timothy 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

And charity, which here is defined as that step just above brotherly kindness which is brotherly love or the active love of compassion a Christian is supposed to have for his brothers and sisters in Christ.

2 Peter 1:5 ¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a whole chapter on this in 1 Corinthians 13 that could not be about charity as in just dropping a coin in the Salvation Army bucket as per verse 3 of that chapter, and keep in mind Christ’s command in John 13:34, 35.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

And so now I would say to you angry modern, and often paranoid and fearful Christians what Paul said;

2Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mark 9:38-40 comments: he's not from our church!


38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

Hustlers like Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts will use a passage such as this to “prove” that they are working by the power of the Holy Spirit rather than by the spirit of Satan. Men don’t do miracles in this age. Christ performs miracles at His will and choosing through specific men at specific times but not like in the age of the Apostles. We have our miracle in a perfectly preserved Bible, without proven error.

Let me say it again, there is no man in this age who has the power of the Holy Spirit residing on him continually, day in and day out, to heal miraculously, to speak in foreign languages in which he has not been trained, or to raise the dead. God can and will use individuals from time to time to accomplish such things but those who make hundreds of millions of dollars from people who are desperate and fearful are wicked, evil men who are doing lying wonders and false signs of Satan.

Who was this man who was not part of Jesus’ company that was casting out devils in His name? Matthew Henry reported that some thought he may have been a disciple of John the Baptist who believed Jesus was the messiah. He reports that others assumed there may have been many like this that were not part of Jesus’ inner circle but believed in Him and were given power as a result.

I am reminded of this passage in the Old Testament.

Numbers 11: 27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Let us not imagine that all things being equal and their doctrine is true and correct that there are not others out doing the work of Christ who are not part of our own assembly. In heaven there are no Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, or any other denomination or faith tradition; only those who have trusted Christ and have been set apart for His purpose.

There are churches that state quite emphatically to a newly saved person that if they are truly saved that person will soon be attending that church. These verses would imply that that church could very well be in error. Remember, Philip did not hang around to tell the Ethiopian eunuch who he should hang out with to get the best preaching (Acts 8:26-40).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mark 9:33-37 commentary: the greatest among them


33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

This is a kingdom of heaven reference, dealing with the Great Tribulation to come and with the physical kingdom of Christ on earth after He returns. The kingdom of heaven reference is stated specifically at another time in Matthew. Remember, Jesus is talking to beard wearing, pork abstaining, Sabbath observing, temple going Jews, who are not born again by believing in His resurrection, which hasn’t taken place yet.

Matthew 18:1 ¶ At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

A spiritual application to Christians in the Church Age would be quite obvious. Remember, any verse from any dispensation that does not contradict the Church Age letters is doctrinal for us. Otherwise, it is in type for us, an allegorical application is necessary. Remember what I have said about the verses about invading the land of Canaan and how you aren’t called to kill anyone for God, however, you do have sins that are squatters in the Promised Land that God has given to you.

So, that any preacher applying these verses to you is not wrong. But, if he were to say that you get into heaven by receiving a child in Christ’s name, he would be in error; that if you received a child in Christ’s name you received Christ.

We are to humble ourselves like a little child is humble by virtue of his or her weakness and inability to comprehend great things. Christ prefers in us the simplicity, the simple trust of a child. With the way Christ views children would it surprise us, I wonder, if we are all children in heaven? The answer to who would be the greatest is who would be the most trusting of Christ in simplicity and without guile, like a child.

Another lesson on children is coming up in chapter ten.

In addition, there are few greater ministries than caring for children and teaching them the word of God. A Christian is given children for a purpose that a heathen is not, to teach and instruct, to raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If you are neglecting that don’t be surprised if God doesn’t take your child away. There are many ways to lose a child, but one of the most disheartening is to lose them to the world. When they adopt the self-destructive passions, the vile entertainments, the vain ambitions, and the empty values of the world you know you have truly failed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mark 9:30-32 commentary: ignorance of the truth


30 ¶ And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. 31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

Like most of us, the Jews were taught so many errors that they were unable to understand the truth when it was presented to them. Many Christians are blind to great Bible truths because they’ve been taught so many errors by preachers whose main concern was their work for Christ rather than Christ. Judge what you are told by the Bible, not the Bible by what you are told.

The Bible is simple in its organization. The Old Testament ends with Malachi with the prophets being after the books of history and law because now they are looking forward to Christ’s second coming. The gospels are a transition with the Old Testament in force until Christ is dead and risen. Acts is a transition which shows the changing history of the early church until all truth is revealed to them that they are going to get. It is the age of the Apostles and their personal power and miracles which God gave to them but which die out when the Bible is complete and together in the early second century. Then comes Romans through Philemon, the Church Age where the dispensation of grace is preeminent. Then comes the transition book of Hebrews and the General Epistles and Revelation which reveal doctrine in the Tribulation, the wrath to come.

Every verse applies to you doctrinally if it doesn’t contradict the Church Age letters’ clear statements. Every verse in the Bible can be applied to you practically but you must be careful not to be a Judaizer and attempt to put yourself and anyone else back under the Law. There are smaller divisions as well but 95% of the Bible is written to a Jew under the Law and/or in the Tribulation. Christians who claim to be the new Jew have a problem when Christ condemns them for saying they are Jews when they are not (Revelation 3:9). Then they adopt the rituals and priestly attire of the Hebrews and we’re off to the races with preachers calling themselves apostles and prophets and people killing people in the name of Christ. It would be laughable if it were not so tragic that Benny Hinn has never healed anyone and that Oral Roberts had to call the ambulance when a tent fell down on a meeting and injured dozens of people he should have been able to heal. Why aren’t these fakers going to a children’s hospital cancer ward if they are genuine?

Many verses do double duty. For instance, Hebrews 6:1-6 show doctrinally that in the Tribulation you can lose your salvation and, if you do, you can’t be saved again. It spiritually and practically applies to a Christian today in showing that you can’t get saved twice, once saved always saved.

I’d be very afraid if I was one of those people who believed that the whole Bible is the same and there are no dispensations or different doctrinal periods. Based on that, they believe they can lose their salvation. If that’s the case, then the verses in Hebrews show that once they do they are lost forever. Christ won’t be crucified again. Once again, if I was one of those, “it’s all the same” people, then I’d be very afraid if I questioned, because of their behavior, whether or not someone was actually saved, because ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan is the unforgiveable sin and you would be doomed. (Mark 3:28-30).

So, be careful, those of you who insist that you have to twist verses to keep them from contradicting other verses and mock those who are called “dispensationalists”. My hearing shuts off as soon as I hear any preacher force the Bible to contradict itself to justify his own personal convictions.

The theology of the early Christians was premillennial, as in Christ would return to reign for 1,000 years literally, and they were awaiting and expecting his return.

“The apostles were apparently unanimous in believing that Christ would soon return to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.” (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: Volume 3, Caesar and Christ (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1944, 575.)

It was dispensational, as they knew that God had dealt differently with Adam than He had dealt with Noah and differently with Moses than He had dealt with David and on and on. The only common thread was that they had to believe God, believe what He said. They had a dispensational end-times belief, as well, with a translation of the church (popularly called “The Rapture” today) before a Great and terrible Tribulation.

Chiliasm, the early belief by the church fathers concerning the end times would produce statements by Shepard in 150, who refers to the church being saved from the tribulation to come, Victorinus in 240 referring to the rapture of the church, Cyprian in 250 referring to the rapture, and the most extensive work on millennialism by Ephraim the Syrian in the late 300’s in his work, On the Last Times.

I am including some quotes of the writings of early church leaders regarding the end times in the way they viewed them. I have used the website biblefacts.org and its online edition of writings of the early Christian church. First, specifically, in regard to the church being taken out of the way;

Shepard 150 AD

• The writer, after escaping a huge terrifying beast with four colors on its head (white, red, black and gold), met a virgin in his vision. "like a bride going froth from a bride-chamber, all in white...I recognized from the former visions that it was the church." the virgin explained that she escaped destruction from the beast (the Great Tribulation) because of God's special deliverance. "Thou hast escaped a great tribulation because thou hast believed and at the sight of such a huge beast hast not doubted. Go therefore and declare to the Elect of the Lord His mighty deeds and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation which is to come. If ye therefore prepare yourselves and with your whole heart turn to the Lord in repentance, then shall ye be able to escape it, if your heart is pure and blameless." After explaining to him that "the golden color stands for you who have escaped from this world," the virgin concluded her messages with, "Now ye know the symbol of the great tribulation to come. But if ye are willing, it shall be nothing."

Victorinus 240AD

• Commentary on the Apocalypse 6.14 - "'And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.' For the heaven to be rolled way, that is, that the Church shall be taken away. "And the mountain and the islands were moved from their places." Mountains and islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed, seeking to avoid the persecution."

• Commentary on the Apocalypse 15.1 - "And I saw another great and wonderful sign, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is completed the indignation of God.' For the wrath of God always strikes the obstinate people with seven plagues, that is, perfectly, as it is said in Leviticus; and these shall be in the last time, when the Church shall have gone out of the midst."

Cyprian 250 AD

• Epistle 55 - The Antichrist is coming, but above him comes Christ also. The enemy goeth about and rageth, but immediately the Lord follows to avenge our suffering and our wounds. The adversary is enraged and threatens, but there is One who can deliver us from his hands." It is significant that he did not write about enduring the persecution of the Antichrist. Rather, Cyprian promised that Christ "is One who can deliver us from his hands."

• Cyprian Speaking of the immanency of the Rapture, he wrote, "Who would not crave to be changed and transformed into the likeness of Christ and to arrive more quickly to the dignity of heavenly glory." After telling his readers that the coming resurrection was the hope of the Christian, he points out that the Rapture should motivate us as we see the last days approaching. Cyprian says that "we who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible." Referring to his hope of the approaching Rapture, he encouraged his readers as follows: "Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?" Cyprian concludes his comments on the translation of the saints with these words: "Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world, and restores us to paradise and the kingdom" (Treatises of Cyprian - 21 to 26?).

Ephraim the Syrian 373 AD

• On The Last Times 2 - ...because all saints and the elect of the LORD are gathered together before the Tribulation which is about to come and be taken to the LORD...

Now, with regard to their looking for a future fulfillment of prophecy as found in the apocalyptic books of the Bible; Papias 70-155

• Fragment 6 - After the resurrection of the dead, Jesus will personally reign for 1000 years. He was taught this by the apostle John himself.

Justin Martyr 110-165

• Dialogue 32 - The man of Sin, spoken of by Daniel, will rule two times and a half, before the second advent.

• Dialogue 110 - The man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us, the Christians.

Irenaeus 178 AD

• Against Heresies 4.26 - Daniel the prophet says "Shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of consummation, until many learn, and knowledge be completed. For at that time, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things."

• Against Heresies 5.25 - In 2 Thessalonians the falling away is an apostasy and there will be a literal rebuilt temple. In Matthew, 24 the "abomination spoken by Daniel" is the antichrist setting in the temple as if he were Christ. The abomination will start in the middle of Daniel's 70th week and last for a literal 3 years and six months. The little (11th) horn is the Antichrist.

• Against Heresies 5.26 - The Roman Empire will first be divided and then be dissolved. Ten kings will arise from what used to be the Roman empire. The Antichrist slays three of the kings and is then the eighth king among them. The kings will destroy Babylon then give the Babylonian kingdom to the beast and put the church to flight. After that they will be destroyed by the coming of the Lord. Daniel's horns are the same as the ten toes. The toes being part of iron and clay mean some will be active and strong while others weak and inactive and the kings will not agree with each other.

• Against Heresies 5.27 - In Matthew 24, the two men one taken and the other left does not refer to the rapture but second coming. They are taken to never ending fire.

• Against Heresies 5.30 - The Name of the Antichrist equals 666 if spelled out in Greek. Do not even try to find out the name until the ten kings arise. The Antichrist shall be from the tribe of Dan. That is why the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the apocalypse. The fourth kingdom seen by Daniel is Rome. Titan is one Greek word that comes out to 666. The rebuilt temple will be in Jerusalem.

• Against Heresies 5.35 - The resurrection of the Just takes place after the destruction of the Antichrist and all nations under his rule. Many believers will make it through the tribulation and replenish the earth. In the resurrection we will have fellowship and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings. The new heavens and earth are created and then the new Jerusalem descends. These are all literal things, and Christians who allegorize them are immature Christians.

Tertullian 190-210 AD

• Marcion 3.25 - Millennial reign, resurrection, and the New Jerusalem are literal. In the resurrection we shall then be changed in a moment into the substance of angels

• Marcion 5.16 - The Anti-Christ will be a real man and set in a real temple.

• Treatise of the Soul 1.50 Enoch and Elias will come back to die. They are the two witnesses of Revelation.

Origen 230 AD

• Against Celsus 2:49 - Quotes Paul about the antichrist, as a literal person who works false miracles.

• Against Celsus 6:45 - There is a literal future Antichrist coming.

• Against Celsus 6:46 - The prophecies in 1 Thessalonians and Daniel are real prophesies about the end of the world. There will be a literal rebuilt Temple.

Commodianus: 240 AD

• 35 - Resurrection is at the end of the 6000 years.

• 41 - Antichrist notes

• 43 - End of the age

• 44 - The first resurrection. those who were not martyred under the antichrist will marry and have children during the 1000 years. no rains, snow, cold during the 1000yrs.

• 80 - Resurrection of the body will be when six thousand years are completed, and after the 1000 years when the world has come to an end.

Lactantius 285 AD

• Divine Institutes 7:14 – 6000yrs till millennium. (Some do not think Book 7 was really written by Lactantius.)

• Divine Institutes 7:16-17 – end times… very good…

• Divine Institutes 7:19 – 1st paragraph anti-Christ 4 battles??

• Divine Institutes 7:25 – 6000yrs, end of days is after the fall of Rome. The Sibyls agree.

• Divine Institutes 7:26 – After 100yrs (7000yrs) at battle of Gog the sun stands still for 3 days. Righteous hid in the mountains then come out, all evil is gone. No more nations. 7 years the woods are untouched. Burn arms of the nations.

• Epitome of Divine Institutes 71 – the last times: - very good…

• Epitome of Divine Institutes 72 – literal 1000yr reign.

Hippolytus;

• Fragment 8: And what am I to say with respect to men, when the very elements themselves will disown their order? There will be earthquakes in every city, and plagues in every country; and monstrous thunderings and frightful lightnings will burn up both houses and fields. Storms of winds will disturb both sea and land excessively; and there will be unfruitfulness on the earth, and a roaring in the sea, and an intolerable agitation on account of souls and the destruction of men. There will be signs in the sun, and signs in the moon, deflections in the stars, distresses of nations, intemperateness in the atmosphere, discharges of hail upon the face of the earth, winters of excessive severity, different frosts, inexorable scorching winds, unexpected thunderings, unlooked-for conflagrations; and in general, lamentation and mourning in the whole earth, without consolation. For, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." By reason of the agitation and confusion of all these, the Lord of the universe cries in the Gospel, saying, "Take heed that ye be not deceived; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet by and by." Let us observe the word of the Savior, how He always admonished us with a view to our security: "Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ."

Victorinus 240 AD

• Commentary on Revelation 2 - Allow fornication on a "pretext for Mercy," the name written on the white stone is "Christian" granting "unlawful peace" over new forms of Prophecy.

• Commentary on Revelation 4 - Rainbow above god's head is red and blue symbolize the judgments of water and fire. 24 elders are the 12 Apostles and 12 Patriarchs.

• Commentary on Revelation 6 - Heaven withdrawing like a scroll is the church taken away.

• Commentary on Revelation 7 - Angel ascending is Elijah. 7 angels (Shepards) are attack the antichrists kingdom. Babylon is the ruined Roman kingdom. Do not look to the order of Revelation, the vials and trumpets are the same events.

• Commentary on Revelation 11 - great wings given to the woman are the two prophets and those who help her.

• Commentary on Revelation 13 - 2nd beast is the false prophet.

Of course, modern Christians don’t know what God said. The modern fundamentalist believes in a Bible that never existed where all of the original manuscripts were located in one place in one Bible at one time, breathed out by God. (Wouldn’t that be “expiration” rather than inspiration?). Of course, translating theopneustos(?) as “God-breathed” is like saying you are going to watch a football game on your “far-off seeing” instead of your television. But, they’ve never seen the original manuscripts that are the only Bible they say were inspired by God and they don’t know anyone on earth who has either.

Like the Jew of Christ’s time the modern neo-evangelical or mainline Christian doesn’t know what’s happening to him or his world because either he’s a theological liberal and his faith and religious beliefs are based on his own imaginings and fantasies or he’s a conservative and he stands on a Bible that doesn’t now exist and never existed in history.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mark 9:25-29 commentary: a Christian can't be possessed


25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. 26 And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. 27 But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. 28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

It is very important when reading the Bible to discern what a word means based on the context. For instance, there are and were evil spirits, entities from the unseen, spiritual world. Any Bible believer who has not bought into the modernistic viewpoint of atheistic determinism will accept from Biblical statements alone the existence of a spirit world.

However, it is important to understand that not every reference to a spirit refers to something supernatural. A spirit can be the attitude one has, the way of thinking, the motivation. There is a danger in fundamentalism of not using common sense when reading and giving mankind a pass, as if he or she wasn’t responsible for their behavior or thinking by blaming an unseen force for their actions.

The following passage refers to a Hebrew man’s emotional state and the guilt or innocence of his wife.

Numbers 5:14 And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:

No one is trying to exorcise an evil spirit in this case. They are trying to determine guilt or innocence. The next verse, in context, is a reference to the spiritual condition of the rulers of Egypt.

Isaiah 19:14 The LORD hath mingled a perverse (perverse = corrupt, crooked, and froward, see Deut. 32:5 and Proverbs 2:4) spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.

Taken out of context it might be implied that this is a reference to an evil spirit but see the verses previous to that one;

Isaiah 19:11 Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? 12 Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt. 13 The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.

There are clear references to unseen, spiritual entities as in the following that possess a young woman. Paul rebukes this spirit and orders it to leave the girl.

Acts 16:16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

Clearly, in the following verses, though, the spirit in question belongs to the man and is not another individual.

Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Recognize that there are unseen, spiritual entities, but be careful about assigning responsibility for a Christian’s actions to them. Man’s heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and in no need of guidance or persuasion to do that which is wrong.

Psalm 7:1 ¶ O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: 2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

Obviously, that wasn’t a human enemy.

Psalm 3:3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

Jesus is making an important point about prayer AND fasting, which focuses you on the spiritual world but keep in mind that in the books or letters written directly to Christians that start with the name, Paul, there is no mention of possession. We don’t see unclean spirits at work again until the end times in Revelation (16:13). 1 Timothy 4:1 underscores the activities of “seducing spirits” in the “latter times”. None of this implies entry into a living person’s mind, much less the possibility of the Holy Spirit, which dwells inside each believing Christian, sharing the space with a devil.

Mankind is inherently evil in and of himself. Don’t ascribe your wicked behavior or thoughts to something you can’t see thereby excusing yourself for your wickedness. You own your sin, pal. Your wrath and your anger and your pride play into the Devil’s hands (Ephesians 4:26; 1 Timothy 3:6). The things the Devil does to a Christian are external. He is not in your head. He doesn’t need to be. You’re too predictable. Just throw the right bait/temptation in front of you and you’re hooked like a fish. You lose your testimony, quench the Holy Spirit’s influence, and make others despise the name of Christ. That is Satan’s pride and joy.

Notice references to the Devil in Paul’s letters. Here, your anger and wrath play into the Devil’s purposes to destroy a Christian’s testimony before others and their relationship with Christ.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither (Don’t even) give place to the devil.

Your defense against the wiles of the Devil is putting on the whole armour of God in Ephesians 6:13-18. In 1 Timothy 3:6-7 Paul warns that a new Christian through pride can share in Satan’s condemnation due to pride, found in Isaiah 14 as the reason for his fall. He then calls a bad reputation in the world a snare for a Christian leader; the snare of the Devil. 2 Timothy 2:26 refers to an unsaved person. All of these functions of the Devil to the Christian are from the outside, not from the inside of the Christian. We have the Holy Spirit of God in us, not the Devil.

An unforgiving spirit plays right into Satan’s hand and this bitterness gives him power, as I have seen all too often in life. (2 Corinthians 2:10, 11) He can destroy our flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5) and make us suffer (2 Corinthians 12:7), he can hinder us in our work for God (1 Thessalonians 2:18). But, Satan can’t possess a Christian.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Mark 9:14-24 commentary: Help thou mine unbelief


14 ¶ And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them. 15 And straightway all the people, when they beheld him, were greatly amazed, and running to him saluted him.16 And he asked the scribes, What question ye with them? 17 And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; 18 And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not. 19 He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me. 20 And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. 21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. 22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. 23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Again, based on the corrupt readings of a handful of Alexandrian manuscripts, most notably the twisted Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, “tears, Lord” are removed in many modern versions, downplaying the sincere devotion and response of this father. Sadly, many fine Christians have no concept of what the Devil has done to their Bibles. “Yea, hath God said?”

Here is an example of what demonic possession can do. This last request is a classic for all of us. We should all be saying at some point in time “help thou mine unbelief”. You can believe and have a great need for faith to be given to you by God. Pray for faith. When you get saved you don’t have all the faith you need.

Romans 14:1 ¶ Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

1Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Also, we should be asking Jesus Christ to rebuke the devils. We should resist the Devil. There are, as I said before, people who think they can command Satan to leave a place in Jesus name. They are foolishly mistaken. You have no example in the Bible where you talk to Satan in prayer. You are never to speak to Satan directly but to call upon God to rebuke him. Pastors who command Satan in prayer to leave, even in Christ’s name, have merely invited an infestation of devils on their congregation. These devils won’t leave easily and you can have spirits of apathy and dull hearing and those who create bitterness, jealousy, envy, and rebellion. I have left “revival” meetings and not returned to them because a Pastor spoke to Satan in prayer, prayer that should be reserved only for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 3:2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?

Jude 8 ¶ Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

You can’t honestly claim to be like Moses or Paul. Your Pastor is not Moses and is not Paul. To claim that he can command a devil to leave is to imply that he has the power of the Apostles. The Apostles are in heaven and their gifts are not manifest in the church as we have something more perfect and complete, that does not point to us, but to Christ; His Book. Satan knows your weakness and pride. You think you can command Satan to do ANYTHING? You are called to do one thing.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Nowhere are you told to rebuke the Devil.

Claiming Apostolic gifts to point to your own spirituality and how close you walk with God is a sham in comparison to submitting to the authority of His word. Today, we have people who create rankings of Christians, starting with those who are “great” Christians who have apostolic gifts and/or think they are without sin in their lives. Their experience with Christ is first and foremost. It’s all about them, not Christ, although they pay lip service to Him.

You can see that they have not submitted to the words of God to sanctify their lives because their affections are little different from the unsaved. If they don’t go to bars, they’ll attend professional sporting events and criticize those who go to bars. If they don’t go to movies, they’ll watch TV and criticize those who go to movies. If they don’t smoke, they’ll be addicted to caffeine, and criticize those who smoke. The modern Pharisee has created, like the Pharisee of old, standards that are comfortable to him. The Pastor who is a Pharisee will say that his standards are godly and that if you put more or less on him than he does you are being rebellious.

Then, that Pastor will think that he is an Old Testament prophet, or priest, or even perhaps Paul or Moses. He will command spirits to leave, thereby infesting his congregation with them. He will go to the Law or the Tribulation books of the Bible for his doctrine and then, pick what he thinks he has and discount the rest. If you don’t manifest the gifts or righteousness this Pharisee has then you are backslidden or steeped in sin.

There is no liberty in his doctrine, only chains. He is a Judaizer, trying to put his congregation under the bondage of the law. He will not uplift the testimony you have at work or in your family because those things compete with his demand that you be at his beck and call. And, in his arrogance, he will claim powers of healing and the rebuke of devils that he does not have. People who focus on special gifts and their own righteousness, salvation experience, and works, and thus themselves, and don’t focus on the word of God to transform their lives think they have the power of God on their lives and that they are an example of a Christian reaching for perfection. Instead, they are why there will be no revival in America that is from God.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mark 9:11-13 commentary; Elias has come


11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Referring to the birth of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Matthew 11:7 ¶ And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

John the Baptist was Elijah (Elias) in type. By coming in the spirit and power of Elijah it is not saying that there is such a thing as reincarnation. People live only once in the flesh.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

But, remember, Elijah didn’t die as other men.

2Kings 2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal…..11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Clearly, Elijah’s power and spirit could be given to this most remarkable, this last of the Old Testament prophets; John the Baptist, who paved the way for the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance. Elijah and John the Baptist were very similar in the disposition and temper, their manner of dress, their crude and austere way of life, and their preaching about sin and repentance.

As Moses and Elijah were both present at the Mount of Transfiguration it is likely that they will be Christ’s Two Witnesses in Jerusalem at the end.

Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. The question that might be asked is if Moses and Elijah are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth?

Zechariah 4:11 ¶ Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Now, go back to Malachi 4:5. If John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah and Elijah and Moses appear at the Mount of Transfiguration, and just suppose that they are the two anointed ones of the Lord and that they will be the two witnesses at the end, understanding that reading these prophecies and accounts in this way gives context to these difficult passages. So, by reading and interpreting this way instead of taking a verse out of the Bible as a separate unit we give continuity to Biblical prophecy and quit trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.

In this way, a phrase or a prophecy in the Bible does not exist independently of the rest of the Bible as God’s hand is in the writing, copying, and translations of the Bible throughout and there is unity in His declarations. Unfortunately, only one out of ten commentators see it this way. Many of them take verses or prophecies as separate units for understanding and thus give the Bible less cohesion and unity.

So, Elijah and Moses appeared at the first coming of Christ as they will appear at the second. They will be witnesses for Him at the end as John the Baptist was at the beginning, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughts on Second Thessalonians 2:1-4, 7


2 Thessalonians 2:1 ¶ Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him (translation of the church; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:5, to remove or transfer from one place to another with “gathering together unto him” meaning to assemble to Him after being removed by Him), 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand (Day of Christ is a period of time, of judgment; the Great Tribulation; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:22 and 7:14. Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:2 as the fulfillment of that prophecy in Himself but stopped before “the day of vengeance of our God” in Luke 4:18, 19. See also Isaiah 63:4 and Jeremiah 46:10, keeping in mind John 3:36; Matthew 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, with Revelation 11:18.) 3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (falling away refers to going over to the other side, to the enemy; Jeremiah 37:13) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (See John 17:12 as the Beast of Revelation who is popularly and incorrectly called The Anti-Christ, comes in the spirit and power of Judas Iscariot just as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah; see Luke 1:17; Mark 9:11-13. Now, based on who the Beast is, think about the betrayal of falling away for the Christian world is currently denying the authority of Christ and His words and proclaiming what the Jews did at least since the so-called Second Great Awakening, see John 19:15) ; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God….7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way (Historically, look at the Lateran Treaty between the Vatican and the government of Italy and the Reich Concordat between the Vatican and Hitler’s regime. One great evil holds back another great evil until it is revealed. Evil tends to hide behind a fa├žade as in Ezekiel 28:15. The standard explanation of this phrase that the Holy Spirit restrains the Beast of Revelation until it leaves the earth is an absurdity as per Psalm 139:8. The power or person that holds back the Beast, perhaps his sponsor or mentor, will be killed as “taken out of the way” is defined in Job 24:24).

Mark 9:8-10 commentary; a literal resurrection


8 And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.

Later, Peter will talk about what he has seen;

2 Peter 1:12 ¶ Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 16 ¶ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Of course, I might add, that right after the relating of his eyewitness experience he states that the word of God is a more certain truth and to be trusted more than one’s experience, which should give many modern feel-good Christians pause.

2 Peter 1:19 ¶ We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

As the word “translation” is preserved for the changing of the church into a heavenly language in the Bible removing it from the physical world (Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:5) what we understand as translating from human language to language is spoken of as “interpretation” as in an interpreter at the United Nations. (See John 1:42, 9:7). Interpretation also refers to understanding, to what something actually means, like a dream (Genesis 40:5, 12, 16, 18). This last verse in 2Peter shows that no one is justified in running off with a special meaning or translation to any verse or prophecy given only to him or her. If you have found something you think no one in the last two thousand years has seen then you need to pray very carefully about it, lest Satan do to your mind what he has done to so many modern Bible translators and authors of Bible lexicons, all of which are hopelessly flawed, according to the late John Chadwick, noted English linguist and classical scholar, author of the famed Lexicographica Graeca.

10 And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

Most Jews believed in a resurrection of the dead.

John 11:24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Remember what Daniel wrote;

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

And Isaiah;

Isaiah 26:19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

They still don’t understand that Jesus must die and rise not connecting what Jesus has said to them with the many passages in the Old Testament that refer to the having to die and rising from the dead such as Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes from the cross, and Isaiah 53. There are other passages that the Bible refers to throughout Jesus’ ministry that foreshadow events at the fulfillment of His ministry such as Proverbs 27:6 with Matthew 26:49, Psalm 41:9 with John 13:18, Psalm 34:20 with John 19:36; Zechariah 13:6 etc. etc.

Resurrection from the dead is a key element in Christianity. If you don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead physically and literally you cannot be saved I don’t care what church you belong to or how sorry you are for your past sins.

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

If you don’t believe that you will rise from the dead physically and literally you certainly aren’t a Bible believer and are missing out on one of the great comforts of trusting in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This is the essence of the doctrine of Adoption;

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

For all the denominational and theological differences among Christians, it is around this belief that we have what may possibly be our only unity; that we believe Christ rose from the dead being God in the flesh, and that by trusting in His righteousness and not our own we, too, shall see eternal life.