Thursday, December 31, 2015


There are many who claim that water baptism constitutes being sprinkled with water. Can you be buried under a sprinkling? Are immersion and sprinkling synonymous?

Romans 6:3-4 Or. do you not know that as many as were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into his death? 4 We were, therefore, buried with him by immersion into death; that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, thus we also should walk in newness of life.(The Better Version of The New Testament by Chester Estes)


Romans 6:4 We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.(New International Version)


Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.(King James Version)


Romans 6:4 Therefore, we were buried with Him through this baptism into death so that just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One, we too, might walk confidently out of the grave into a new life. (The Voice)


He who has been buried with Christ in baptism [immersion, that is] has been forgiven of sin.--- Romans 6:3-7..........7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.(NKJV)


Yes, water baptism is essential in order to be saved.

 Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved...(NKJV)

Not only has the church of Christ, [the body of Christ] been buried with Christ in baptism, but Christ sanctified, and cleansed His church with the washing of water. Ephesians 5:25-27.

Yes, men have to believe in Jesus and be baptized in water to be saved.   


Have you ever noticed the parallels between Naaman's cure of his leprosy and faith only believers doctrine of forgiveness of sin?

Naaman wanted his leprosy washed away, but he did not want to follow the plan of God's man, the prophet Elisha.

Faith only believers want to have sins washed away, but they do not want to follow the plan of the man Jesus selected to implement that plan, the apostle Peter.

2 Kings 5:10-11 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean. 11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, "Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper'

Naaman thought calling on the name of the Lord and waving of Elisha's hand would cure his leprosy. Naaman did not want to get wet. Naaman did not want to baptize himself seven times. Naaman thought "faith only" would cure his leprosy.

Acts 2:37-38....what shall we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Faith only believers do not want to get wet. They do not want to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. They want to call on the name of the Lord and say the "Sinner's Prayer."

Naaman's servant convinced him to follow Elisha's plan.

2 Kings 5:14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean.

Naaman's leprosy was not removed by faith only. Naaman's leprosy was removed and his flesh was restored only after he baptized himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman did not sprinkle himself seven times in the Jordan . Naaman did not pour himself seven times in the Jordan. Naaman dipped (baptized) himself in the Jordan seven times. Naaman had faith in the God of the prophet Elisha, however, obedience was required in order to have his leprosy cured.

UNDER THE NEW COVENANT faith is essential in order to have sins forgiven, however, obedience in water baptism is also required in order to have sins forgiven.


Naaman did not say dipping in water had absolutely nothing to do with his being cleansed of leprosy.

Naaman did not proclaim that his leprosy was cleansed the minute he believed God had the power to cure his leprosy.

Naaman did not assert that dipping in the Jordan was an outward sign of his cure that had taken place before he entered the water.

Naaman did not say he baptized himself because his leprosy had already been cured.

Naaman did tell others that he baptized himself because Elisha command it, and it was just an act of obedience.

Naaman did not proclaim that his leprosy was cured by faith only.

Naaman did not say dipping in the Jordan was "a work of righteousness" and works cannot wash away leprosy.

Naaman failed to assert that baptizing himself was a testimony of his faith, but was not essential to having his leprosy cured.

QUESTION: Can "faith only" believers reject what God's man, the apostle Peter, said about repentance and water baptism and 
have their sins forgiven? (Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21)


Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Are men born again the minute they believe that Jesus is the Christ? No, they are not.

Apollos and his friends were all believers in Jesus and had been baptized in accordance to the baptism of John the Baptist. Were they born again? No, they had not even heard that there was a Holy Spirit. (Acts 19:1-7) They were not saved. (John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly , I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God).

1. Apollos and friends believed. (Acts 19:2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said to him, "No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.") Apollos and friends were believers in Jesus, however, they had not been born again.  There are no unborn saved believers.

2. Apollos and friends were not born again even though they had believed and had been baptized in water according to John's baptism. (Acts 19:3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said , "Into John's baptism.")
A. After the Day of Pentecost John's baptism was not a valid baptism.
B. Believing, alone, does not cause someone to be born again.

3.  Acts 19:4-5 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is in Jesus." 5 When they hear this they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (When Apollos and friends heard this they were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  Galatians 3:27, Acts 2:38 they were born of water and the Spirit John 3:5).

Apollos and friend being baptized unto John's baptism and believing in Jesus did not result in the new birth.

Believing and Christian water baptism, results in being born again, (The New Birth), John 3:5, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Titus 3:5, Acts 22:16.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

by David Vaughn Elliott 

"The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates" (Ex. 20:10). This is a very humanitarian idea to give not only your own body a day of rest every week, but also to give rest to everybody else in your house, even the animals. 

To Whom Was the Sabbath Given?
It was Jesus who said: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:23-28). Did Jesus mean the Sabbath was made for all men of all times? In the parallel text (Matt. 12:1-8), Jesus' quotes Hosea 6:6: "For I desired mercy and not sacrifice." Jesus was teaching that mercy must be shown on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made to bless man. Man was not made to bless the Sabbath.

But which men? If I say that the airplane was made for man, and not man for the airplane, I am not saying anything about who might  fly. I am simply saying that airplanes were made to benefit people; people were not made to benefit airplanes.

In Gen. 2:3, God indeed "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it"; but nowhere in Genesis does God command anyone to keep the Sabbath. The first time that "Sabbath" is mentioned is Ex. 16:23-36. Verse 29 says, "The Lord has given you the Sabbath." Who is "you"? The answer follows in verses 31-32: "The house of Israel," whom God had brought "out from the land of Egypt."

Shortly thereafter, the Ten Commandments were given. Note the introduction: "I am the Lord your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Ex. 20:2). The fourth command of the ten (20:8-11) gives the well-known reason for resting on the Sabbath: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth... and rested the seventh day." However, in the parallel text, another reason is given: "Remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God brought you out... therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day" (Deut. 5:15). Clearly the Sabbath command was given to the children of Israel shortly after God brought them out of slavery in Egypt.

Later God said: "The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations... It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever" (Ex. 31:16-17). So when Mark 2:27 says "The Sabbath was made for man," it means for the men of Israel, to whom the commandment was given and to whom Jesus was speaking.

But Was the Sabbath Also Given to the Gentiles?
The Sabbath command did include provision for the stranger "that is within your gates" (Ex. 20:10). The law also made provision for "when a stranger shall sojourn with you" to keep the Passover and be circumcised (Ex. 12:48-49). Thus the Old Covenant permitted foreigners to live among the children of Israel and become a part of them.

However, God never commanded the children of Israel to go into all the world and preach the law of Moses to every creature. Quite the contrary, God said of seven nations: "You shall smite them and utterly destroy them" (Deut. 7:1-6). Why? "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God... a special people unto himself above all people that are on the face of the earth." Psalm 147:19-20 further adds: "He shows his word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He has not dealt so with any nation." Gentiles, outside the borders of Israel were never commanded to keep the Sabbath. 

The Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus called himself the "Lord also of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28). Did He mean He would always be the Lord of the Sabbath? A look at a similar case can help clarify the matter.

Jesus called the temple in Jerusalem "My Father's house" (John 2:16). Does this prove that the temple would always be His Father's house? Not at all. When Jesus died on the cross, "the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom" (Matt. 27:50-51). With this divine act, God terminated His ownership of the temple. Jesus' blood had replaced animal sacrifices. Not only that, but since A.D. 70, the temple hasn't even existed to be able to be God's house. Just as the temple being God's house was not permanent, so Jesus' being the Lord of the Sabbath was not permanent, except insofar as He is Lord of everything.

Sabbath-keepers in A.D. 70
Does Jesus' statement in Matt. 24:20 prove that Christians would be keeping the Sabbath in A.D. 70: "pray you that your flight be not... on the Sabbath day." Keep in mind that Jesus had earlier taught that it was lawful "to save life" on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). So to flee on the Sabbath would not be an issue, unless... 

… unless violent Sabbath-keepers got in the way. The Sabbath-keepers at that time would be the Jews who did not believe in Jesus. If the Jews strictly kept the Sabbath, the gates of the city would be closed (Neh. 13:19). The unbelieving Jews could not only refuse to let Christians leave the city, they could even attempt to kill them, just as they attempted with Jesus because, in their eyes, he broke the Sabbath (John 5:18).

Following Jesus' Example
"Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). What does this mean? Are we to do everything Jesus did? Must we move to Palestine? Must we be carpenters? Must we fast 40 days? Must we walk on water?

The answers are obvious. But there are other cases that are not so obvious. Consider feet washing. The key here is in the word "example." Jesus did not say that feet-washing was a command. After He washed dirty feet, Jesus said: "I have given you an example" (John 13:15). The math student who simply copies the examples given, instead of applying them to the problems of the test, fails the test. If I wash someone's clean feet, I fail the test. Jesus did not command a ceremony. Rather, he gave an "example" of loving service.

Many things Jesus did were the result of his living under the OT law. For example, He kept the Passover, both as a youth and as an adult (Luke 2:41-42; Mark 14:12-14). Since we do not live under the Law, we do not follow that example today.

Jesus' custom, as a youth and as an adult, was to go to the synagogue every Sabbath (Luke 4:16). Today we do not follow this example of going to a synagogue, because a synagogue is a place of worship of the Jews (Acts 17:1). As for the Sabbath, Jesus kept it because He was born and lived under the Law. He had to keep all the Law in order to become a sinless sacrifice. His example of keeping the Sabbath is no more binding upon us today than is his example of going to a synagogue.

Paul Visited Synagogues on the Sabbath
The book of Acts belongs to the New Covenant. Why, then, does it tell of Paul preaching on the Sabbath? Romans 1:16 gives a clue when it declares that the gospel is God's power "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Paul followed that plan. In Antioch, on the second Sabbath that Paul preached in the synagogue, the Jews who did not believe opposed Paul. Paul then explained: "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you... we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:46).  

In Acts 17:1-3, in Thessalonica: "where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered..." Sometimes, as in this case, the persecution became so strong that "the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea" (17:10). In less severe cases, as in Ephesus, when many Jews in the synagogue refused to believe, Paul simply "departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus" (19:9). 

Paul visited synagogues on the Sabbath to evangelize the Jews on their day of worship. In the book of Acts, there is no mention of Christian worship on the Sabbath. There is no mention of Christians resting on the Sabbath. There is no command to keep the Sabbath. In each city, once the Jews rejected the message and Paul turned to the Gentiles, the Sabbath was not mentioned again. 

The Sabbath Was Nailed to the Cross
From Romans to Revelation, there is neither command nor example to keep the Sabbath. In fact, there is only one text in which the word "Sabbath" appears: Col. 2:16.

And the fact is that Col. 2:13-17 teaches the opposite of Sabbath-keeping. It tells us that we are no longer obligated to keep Sabbaths, because they were taken away by Christ on the cross. Because the various OT ordinances were taken out of the way, the text continues: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day (feast day, festival) or of the new moon or of the Sabbath days" (2:16).  

This text lists three classes of holy days: feast day, new moon, and Sabbath. Seven times on the OT, we have the same three-fold listing. For example, 2 Chron. 31:3 says: "the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts." Whether the lists start or end with the Sabbath, a common listing of the Jewish holy days is three-fold: yearly, monthly, and weekly. The listing in Col. 2, therefore, is not a new concept. Rather, it was a well-known expression: the common way to list all the Jewish holy days: the yearly, the monthly and the weekly.

That the term "feasts," in such verses, refers to the yearly holy days is confirmed in 2 Chron. 8:13: "on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year." The term "Sabbaths" refers to the weekly holy days, as can be seen in Ezekiel 46. When verse 1 mentions the Sabbath, it is clarified to mean the seventh day: "the six working days; but on the Sabbath..." And note that verses 1 and 9 refer to "the new moon" and "the solemn feasts," thus giving the same three-fold division of Col. 2, just more spread out.

Col. 2:14 says of "the handwriting of ordinances," that Christ  "took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." Verse 16 gives examples of some of those things contained in the handwriting that were nailed to the cross. Among the items listed is "Sabbath." Colossians thus teaches that Christ took away the commandment to keep the seventh day of the week. Christ nailed the fourth commandment to the cross, along with all the rest of the Law.

The Sabbath a Shadow

Colossians 2 says more: the Sabbath, along with many things in the OT, was "a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ" (2:16-17). The substance, the reality, belongs to Christ. The Sabbath was a shadow (a figure, a symbol) of that reality. Since the major command of the Sabbath was to rest, we would expect that it foreshadowed rest in the NT.

The text which most goes into depth regarding the shadow of rest is Heb. 3:7 to 4:11. Although it speaks mainly of the figure of rest in the Promised Land, Hebrews 4 also includes the seventh day in the figure of rest (4:3-4). 

For the correct understanding of this shadow, we read in Heb 4:9: "There remains therefore a rest to the people of God." But the rest that remains for the Christian today is not a command (of the seventh day or of any other day). Rather, according to 4:1: "a promise being left us of entering into his rest." The wicked will "have no rest day nor night." But as for the righteous: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord... that they may rest from their labors" (Rev. 14:11,13). The OT seventh day rest was a shadow, which was nailed to the cross. The reality will be our eternal rest with Christ Jesus! Praise His Name!

Monday, December 28, 2015


Who owns the church? Do Christians own the church? Did God sell franchises of His church to multiple denominations? If Christians own the church, then let them name it The Christian Church. If God sold franchises of the church, then let men name them, The Lutheran Church, The Roman Catholic Church, The Baptist Church, etc.
If these groups own their churches, then they have the right to dictate doctrine. They can write the requirements of entry into their churches.

If God owns the church, then He alone writes the rules for faith and practice. If God owns the church, then He alone declares the requirements for entry into His church. If God owns the church, then He alone gives the terms for pardon from sin. If God owns the church, then He alone declare how men will be saved.

Acts 20:28 ....the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.


Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

God has given all authority to Jesus. Jesus is the head of the church.(Ephesians 5:23)  Jesus had the authority to give the requirement for salvation.(Mark 16:16)  Jesus adds the saved to His church. (Acts 2:47) The body of Christ is all who are saved, that is the church of Christ.(Romans 16:16)

Acts 11:26 .....and the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

The disciples were not called Christians because they established The Christian Church, The Lutheran Church, The Roman Catholic Church, The Baptist Church etc. They were called Christians because they had had their sins washed away by the blood of Christ. The were called Christians because the Lord had added them to His church. The Lord did not add them the The Christian Church, The Lutheran Church, The Roman Catholic Church, The Baptist Church etc. They were called Christians because they were saved followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus died for His church. It is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not The Christian Church, The Lutheran Church, The Roman Catholic Church, The Baptist Church, etc.

Christians are members of the body of Christ, which is the church of Christ. HOWEVER, CHRISTIANS DO NOT OWN THE CHURCH. Christian do not get to make the rules for faith and practice in the church. Christians do not get to write the requirements for salvation.



Sunday, December 27, 2015


Should mankind use the Bible and the Bible alone for teaching faith and practice? If God's truth is the template for you, then the Bible should be your source for truth.


1. Quote from Pope Francis May 22, 2013: "The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not evil. All of us. "But Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.' Yes he can..."The Lord has redeemed all of us,all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us not just Catholics Everyone! Father, the atheist? Even the atheists. Everyone! ....We must meet one another doing good. ' But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist! But do good:we will meet one another there."

2. Quote from Billy Graham October 20, 1997: "I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the Body of Christ......He's calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world,or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ,because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven."

3. Quote from Doctrine of Covenants -section 130:22 (Mormon supposed divine revelations): The "Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were is not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

These quotes are all contrary to the Bible.


Saturday, December 26, 2015


According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center 27% of white evangelical Protestants, 68% of white Catholics and 78% of white mainline Protestants believe that humans have evolved over time.

Is it possible to be a Christian evolutionist? How is that possible?

God is either the creator of all things or a human evolutionist. He is not both.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said , "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.......27 So God created man in His own image...(NKJV)

God did not say let man evolve into His own image.

Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female." (NKJV)

Jesus said, male and female were made at the beginning. Male and female did not evolve, they were created.

Some who claim to be Christians, say that the Genesis account of creation is allegorical or mythical. Is Matthew 19:4 allegorical and mythical as well?

Others claim to believe in theistic evolution. God is either creator of all things or a humanist evolutionist, God is not both.


Friday, December 25, 2015


The Roman Catholic Church claims they they gave the world the Bible when it was canonized by the Catholic Church councils of Hippo in 393 A.D..

If the Catholic Church gave the world the Bible?

1. Why does the Bible not mention the Pope as being the vicar of Christ on earth?

2. Why does the Bible not mention purgatory?

3. Why does the Bible not mention a sacrificial Mass?

4. Why does the Bible not mention that it is forbidden to ordain bishops who are married?

5. Why does the Bible not mention that the Virgin Mary was free from all actual sin.

6. Why does the Bible not mention saying The Rosary?

7. Why does the Bible not mention praying to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?

8. Why does the Bible not mention transubstantiation?

9. Why does the Bible not mention the office of priest?

10. Why does the Bible not mention absolution from sin granted by the church through a priest?

11. Why does the Bible not mention the Roman Catholic Church?

12. Why do Catholics not accept the Bible as their final and only authority in faith and practice?

13. Why does the Bible not refer to the Pope as being God here on earth?

14. Why does the Bible not say the apostle Peter was the first Roman Catholic Pope?

15. Why does the Bible not mention the assumption of the Virgin Mary?

16. Why does the Bible not mention that Mary was a perpetual Virgin?

17. Why does the Bible not mention that anyone who is not a member of the Roman Catholic denomination cannot be saved?


Thursday, December 24, 2015


 Does majority opinion indicate God's truth? No, God is the majority of one.

John 18:37 Pilate said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come to the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."(NKJV)

Everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Jesus.

It is estimated that there are 7.3 billion people in the world, however, only 2.4 billion claim to believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.

Everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Jesus.

1 John 2:18-23......22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son......(NKJV)

There are 4.9 billion antichrists in the world. The majority is not an indicator of God's truth.

Everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Jesus.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)

There are 43 million Baptists in the world and the majority of them do not believe what Jesus said in Mark 16:16"He who believes and is baptized will be saved...NKJV) Most of the 43 million Baptist do not believe the words of Jesus when He said, "and is baptized will be saved." They deny water baptism is essential for salvation. They believe baptism is done after a person is saved.

Everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Jesus.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.(NKJV)

There are many who say, that Jesus meant be born of the water of childbirth in order to enter the kingdom of God.

There are others who say you do have to be baptized in water, sprinkled with water, nor have water poured on you to enter the kingdom of God. They assert  men only have to be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.[ Who believes no water at all should be used in the their denominations? To name two, the Salvation Army and The Friends Church AKA Quakers]

Everyone who is of the truth hears the voice of Jesus.

Only those who seek God's truth will find the truth. Reading the Bible to confirm your denominations teaching is not seeking the truth.

Men must seek God's truth and not try to validate their own version of the truth.       




John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

What is the meaning of John 6:44?

1. Does it mean only a few, who have been selected by the Father, will be saved? No, it does not.
2. Does it mean that men only respond to the gospel because of irresistible grace? No, it does not.


John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

The Father draws all who hear and learn. The Father does not force anyone to hear or learn. Men have free-will. God does not impute faith into a few so they will believe and be saved. Faith does not come by injection.


Romans 10:13-14 for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?

Men need to hear the gospel before they can learn and believe. The Father draws men by the gospel.

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Faith comes from hearing the gospel. Faith does not come because the Father selected a chosen few, before the world began, to be saved. All who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are the chosen and that includes whoever accepts God's terms for pardon. Faith does not come because of irresistible grace.

God the Father draws men to Jesus with the gospel.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,



Romans 10:21 But as for Israel He says, "All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."

Israel as a nation rejected the gospel. How could that be possible if irresistible grace were in play? Israel turned away from God.

Matthew 23:37 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

Jerusalem was unwilling to be drawn to Jesus by believing the gospel. They had a choice.

John 5:39-40 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

The Jews had the opportunity to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they were unwilling. There was no irresistible grace in play. The Father draws all who are willing to believe the gospel.

John 6:40 This is the will of My Father, that everyone  who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."





Wednesday, December 23, 2015

by David Vaughn Elliott

    Hades could not stop Jesus' plans. He had promised: "On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). Neither the Jews nor the Romans nor Hades could stop Jesus' plans. The gates of Hades would burst open to let Jesus out. Jesus would prevail and build His church!  

    Immediately following this promise to build His church, Jesus told Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven." The kingdom is "of heaven." But Peter was to "bind on earth," thus during his lifetime. This is in complete harmony with another promise Jesus made to His followers: "there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:27). 


    Upon considering everything the New Testament says about both the kingdom of heaven and the church of Jesus, one finds it extremely difficult to differentiate between the two--what is affirmed of the kingdom is also affirmed of the church. 

    Very early in His ministry, "Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel' " (Mark 1:14,15). Jesus, affirming that the kingdom was just around the corner, interconnected four vital elements: 1) the gospel, 2) the kingdom, 3) repentance and 4) faith. And is not the church of Jesus Christ precisely involved with the same gospel, repentance and faith? Most assuredly.  

    The gospel, of course, is the Good News of salvation based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Therefore, the gospel of the kingdom could not be transformed from prophecy into reality until after Jesus' death and resurrection. In Matthew 16, Jesus said the same about the church: Hades would not stop Him from building the church. In other words, He would indeed die, go to Hades, come out victorious, and then build His church. Thus, the church and the kingdom are equally predicted to commence following Jesus' death and resurrection. 

    Everyone knows that no physical kingdom of God was set up in the first (or second) century. On the other hand, many recognize that in the first century, a spiritual kingdom of God was set up! Also, everyone knows that a church was set up. There simply is no escaping the reality that the church of Jesus Christ is that kingdom of heaven which Jesus promised would soon arrive.  


    The book of Acts is unique. To ignore it is to miss a vital link in God's dealings with the human race. Acts is the only book in the New Testament dedicated to the history of Jesus' apostles after the ascension. After studying the Gospels, a student of the Word should turn to the book of Acts, confidently expecting to find the historical fulfillment of Jesus' prophecies of the kingdom and the church. It was time for their arrival.  


    Religious people often talk longingly of a return to Pentecost. They usually are referring either to speaking in tongues or to great multitudes being converted. I dare say that neither concern is of chief importance when evaluating what transpired on that particular Jewish Pentecost.  

    It was the year 30 A.D., less than two months since Jesus' death and resurrection. But before Jesus left for heaven, He gave His apostles a very important command: "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait" (Acts 1:4. Except where otherwise noted, all quotes in this Insight will be from the book of Acts).  

    Remember that Jesus had promised Peter "the keys of the kingdom." It is no coincidence, therefore, that Peter was the leading spokesman on the day of Pentecost. Keys open doors. Peter was chosen by God to initiate the kingdom of heaven, to inform people how they could enter. How did Peter unlock the doors? It was he who answered the anguished cry of the Israelites, "Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?" (2:37). "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit' " (2:38).  

    Most have no difficulty in recognizing this as the beginning of the Lord's church. But we should equally recognize that Peter's statement is a variation and divine explanation of what Jesus told Nicodemus: "unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Notice the parallelism between, "born of water and the Spirit" on the one hand and "repent... be baptized... receive... the Holy Spirit" on the other. Entering the kingdom and entering the church are one and the same. 

    Attention has been called to Mark 1:14,15, where Jesus interconnected four vital elements: 1) the gospel, 2) the kingdom, 3) repentance and 4) faith. On the day of Pentecost, Peter clearly preached the gospel, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. In his entire message, he clearly called the Jews to faith in Jesus. Then in 2:38 he calls them to repentance. The gospel, faith and repentance are three things that Jesus connected with the kingdom. Certainly the kingdom of heaven was making its appearance as Peter spoke. 


    In Mark 9:1, Jesus prophesied that the kingdom of God would come with power during the lifetime of His listeners. After His resurrection, He told the apostles: "I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Before Jesus ascended, he further clarified the matter: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (1:8). That happened exactly ten days later, on the day of Pentecost. So the power of the kingdom was provided by the Holy Spirit. 

    On the night of his betrayal, Jesus had explained to the Apostles: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear [them] now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:12,13). These words are extremely important for understanding the relationship between the four Gospels and the Book of Acts. Red letter Bibles make a grave mistake. Jesus said that He did not reveal all the truth during His earthly ministry. He said all truth would be revealed when the Holy Spirit came to the Apostles.  

    Thus, the Gospels cannot be fully appreciated nor understood unless they are connected to the Book of Acts. It is in the book of Acts that the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles. It is in the Book of Acts that the kingdom of God comes with this power of the Holy Spirit. It is on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension that the real meaning of the cross and the empty tomb is made known to the world.  

    Speaking in tongues, of itself, was not the important thing. Rather, the tongues were proof of the important thing--that Peter was not preaching his own ideas, but that he was infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit to interpret the Old Testament prophecies, to explain the meaning of the cross and the empty tomb and to offer to the Jews the divine means of entering the kingdom of God! 


    The kingdom also arrived with the power of miracles. Peter and John were instruments of God to heal a 40-year-old man who had been lame from birth. The healing was immediate and sent the man leaping. As the crowd gathered, Peter and John used the opportunity to preach salvation from sin through the very Jesus whom the mobs had killed. 

    This miracle was a demonstration of a power that no human has. Peter told the crowd: "Why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" (3:12). Peter and John were arrested. The next day, when the council assembled, they wanted to know, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" (4:7). When they later conferred among themselves, they admitted, "Indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them [is] evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny [it]" (4:16). The kingdom had arrived with the power of miracles. 

    Soon afterward, Luke records that "with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (4:33). Not a little power. Great power. This might refer to the continuance of the signs and wonders done by them in connection with their preaching. It could equally refer to the manner in which the Holy Spirit spoke through them. Later, the same type of statement is made regarding Stephen, "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people" (6:8). 

    Meanwhile, in Samaria, Simon the sorcerer was considered by the masses to be "the great power of God" (8:10). But when he saw the real power of God, Simon was converted to Christ. Peter and John then came to Samaria and laid hands on the brethren to impart to them the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simon was not only astonished; he thought there was something in it for him personally. He offered to buy this power, saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit" (8:19). There was power, but it was not for sale. "Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!' " (8:20). Truly, the kingdom had arrived with miraculous power. 


    On Pentecost, Peter dwelt at length on the resurrection and ascension. In that context, he referred to the prophecy that the Messiah would sit on the throne of David. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter said that this prophecy had already been fulfilled! How? Notice carefully what Peter says in relation to David and Jesus. "David... being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ... Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God" (2:29-33). 

    David, foreseeing that the Messiah would sit on his throne, spoke of the resurrection. Since His ascension, Jesus has been seated at the right hand of God. He is on His throne. According to the way Peter expressed it, the throne in heaven is the fulfillment of Jesus sitting on the throne of David. 

    Peter's climax is recorded in verse 36: "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Accomplished fact. The Jews had crucified Him; but God had made Him Lord and Christ. "Lord" is Ruler, Sovereign. "Christ" is Messiah, anointed One, Prophet, Priest and King. Peter was declaring that Jesus of Nazareth is King now! He is exalted. He is at the right hand of the Father. He is on the throne of David.  

    Jesus reigns! And no one reigns unless they have a kingdom to reign over. So, the kingdom came on that day of Pentecost. It had been called "the kingdom of heaven." The King was ruling from heaven. As promised, He had sent the power of the Holy Spirit so that the kingdom would arrive with power. 

    Years later in Thessalonica, the Jews accused the Christians of "saying there is another king--Jesus" (17:7). There is another king. Present tense. The accusation was true. This is exactly what the Christians were preaching since Pentecost: "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (2:36). Jesus is Christ--Messiah--King. The kingdom of heaven is here now. 


    Peter and John were arrested and brought before the "Supreme Court" of the Jews. Peter said that the risen Messiah had healed the lame man. Then he charged, "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone' " (4:11). The Jewish leaders had rejected Jesus, the stone, but that had not stopped God's plans with the Jews nor with the Messiah. 

    Notice the difference between Jesus and Peter's use of Psalm 118:22. Jesus asked if they had never read that Scripture and proceeded to quote it. Peter, on the other hand, via paraphrase, said, "This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone." Peter thus affirms that the prophecy had been fulfilled. 

    Jesus had quoted this "stone" prophecy when He explained the parable of the vineyard: "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder" (Matthew 21:42-44).  

    First notice: "kingdom... taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits." That is practically an outline of the book of Acts. Over and over Paul is rejected by the Jews and turns to the Gentiles. "Behold, we turn to the Gentiles" (13:46). This is a clear fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy. 

    Notice secondly: "Grind him to powder." That calls to mind Daniel's stone prophecy: "A stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces... the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed... it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms" (Daniel 2:34,44). (For more details on Daniel's prophecy, see Insight #83: "Daniel Foretells Indestructible Kingdom."

    This breaking process was already starting in the first century (though not completed until much later). In Thessalonica great numbers of Greeks were being converted. The unbelieving Jews stirred up the populace and the mob cried out: "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (17:6). The followers of the humble Carpenter were turning the world upside down. Later, in Ephesus, so many people were being converted and leaving their idolatry that the bottom was falling out of the idol market. See Acts 19. The Stone was conquering.  


    Probably the biggest doctrinal disturbance in the early church was the question of the salvation of the Gentiles. God had to work several miracles to convince the apostles that Cornelius' household could be saved through the same gospel that saved the Jews. However, there continued an element in the church, especially among converted Pharisees, who believed Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. Hence the consultation in Jerusalem recorded in the 15th chapter of Acts.  

    On that memorable occasion, Peter told the brethren: "So God... made no distinction between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles]... through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they"(15:8-11).  

    Soon, James took the floor, and quoted a prophecy of Amos. Introducing the quote, he said: "Simon [Peter] has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written" (15:14,15). Then he quotes Amos 9:11,12, which in part says, "So that the rest of mankind may seek the LORD, Even all the Gentiles." Thus, the Gospel Age, the Church Age, the salvation of Gentiles were in direct fulfillment of O.T. prophecy. 

    Before the portion already quoted, Amos had said (as quoted by James) "After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down" (15:16). All of this in the context of accepting the Gentiles into the Church. Now the only other text in the Bible which uses the expression "tabernacle of David" is Isaiah 16:5: "In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David."  

    Amazing! It prophetically speaks of someone sitting on the throne in the tabernacle of David. But neither the literal tabernacle of David nor the literal temple of Solomon had a throne. The tabernacle-temple was one thing; the palace was another. The altar was one thing; the throne another. The priest was one thing; the king another. But this prophecy combines the two! What other fulfillment can it have than that of our Prophet, Priest and King Jesus? And James indicates that it was already being fulfilled. The tabernacle of David, the throne, the Priest, the King, the Savior not only of the Jews but also of the Gentiles was a present reality. Truly the kingdom of heaven had arrived. 


    The summary of Philip's preaching in Samaria is this: "he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" (8:12). The summation of Paul's three months of preaching in Ephesus is this: "reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God" (19:8). Paul's two years of preaching in Rome is summarized thus: "preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ" (28:31).  

    These three accounts--Philip in Samaria and Paul in Ephesus and Rome--are remarkable. Here we have 3 instances in which days and even years of preaching are summed up to consist of two elements: the kingdom and Christ. Yet, in all the book of Acts, there is no record of Philip or Paul ever mentioning anything about a future Jewish 1000-year earthly reign headquartered in Jerusalem. Therefore, such a millennium concept must not be what Luke had in mind when he recorded that Philip and Paul preached the kingdom of God. 

    Yes, there is one time in the book of Acts, where Paul clearly speaks of the kingdom in a future sense. In 14:22, he told the brethren, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." Even so, the kingdom here is a promise to faithful Christians--certainly not to the Jews who were the cause of their tribulations (see 14:19-23).  

    The kingdom in the present sense can be seen by examining the details of what Paul did teach and preach. A detailed example is given in Acts 13: 

--that Jesus was the descendent of David and the Savior, according to the promises (vss. 22,23); 

--that there are glad tidings, namely that God raised Jesus from the dead in fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers (vss. 30-37); 

--that faith in Jesus can do what the Law of Moses could not do, namely cleanse from sin (vss. 38,39); 

--that since the Jews rejected eternal life through Jesus, the message was sent to the Gentiles in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (vss. 46,47). 

    Paul preached the kingdom by declaring Jesus as the Son of David--that involves Jesus being King. Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom by proclaiming that the promises to Israel were being fulfilled--they include the King's kingdom. Assuredly, in the first century, a spiritual gospel and a spiritual kingdom appeared on the world stage--exactly within the timeframe prophesied by Daniel and Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is a present reality. 

(Scripture in the preceding article is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.) 

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