Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26 – 05/09/2016

Acts 3:17 (ESV) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse seventeen…

V17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

We come into this sermon midway through (beginning is at the following link) and Peter acknowledges that the order to kill Jesus by crucifixion was done without the knowledge of God’s eternal plan to redeem mankind. Peter explains this because although they are guilty of the blood of Jesus and they are guilty through their sin nature, God used that sin nature to achieve his will in this situation. The ignorance was taken into account but it still was sin.

V18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

Despite their motives to get rid of Jesus it was all done that prophecy may be fulfilled and despite the best efforts of them as individuals they could not stop God and stop the will and plan of God. Christ, even in his sufferings fulfilled what was written of old about him.

V19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Peter makes a call to repentance here and that is one of the things I love about many of the good pastors I listen to is that despite where the core verse in the bible they are teaching that they always come back to Jesus and repenting of your sins and the core tenants of the gospel message. Peter also does this and I think that is important because you may always get someone who has never heard the gospel listening to you for the first time and it is important that everything circles back to Jesus.

Peter repeats the call to repentance that he made in Acts 2:38 and calls them to take a u turn in their thinking and as Christians we all understand that because when I reflect on where I was, say 10 years ago then I fully understand about a Holy Spirit changed life. Repentance is not a bad thing because in Christ we have an assured hope that we did not have without Him. Peter is also asking that they be converted to follow Jesus to become that new creation and take advantage of God’s grace so their sins could be blotted out, erased and wiped off any record of our offense to God. What a glorious free gift this Salvation through Christ is!

Jesus will come back and rule the earth in the perfect form of monarchy and righteousness, if you are bummed about your choices for First Minister/President/Prime Minister (delete as appropriate) please be assured that a king is coming who is a glorious king who will have a 100% approval rating and will reign is grace honor and truth. That will be a time of refreshing and Peter goes as far as to say that if the nation repents then God would send Jesus Christ but until then Jesus will remain at the right hand of the Father until the restoration of all things. That Jesus would return and Eden’s curse would be lifted for evermore. This world will continue to get worse until that happens.

V22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’

Peter quotes Deuteronomy 18 which states the following…

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

And Peter was sure speaking their language because they delighted in their knowledge of the scriptures and loved to boast in the facts they knew of God, that danger is still there today as we become more “fact aware” about the bible and not allow it to permeate our heart. Peter ties in “the prophet” as being the Messiah Jesus Christ that they should indeed listen to and follow. Peter also advises verse 19 was unfolding before their very eyes and was a stark warning to the people at that time. It is true that those who reject Jesus whether they be Jew or Gentile would suffer the same fate.

V24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

The message was consistent through all of the prophets that there would be a Messiah and as sons of the prophets they should have known better as descendants of their spiritual father Abraham that was promised in the book of Genesis and this alone was a real faith tester because Abraham wasn’t much change off of 100 years old and had no kids at that point. His wife was also well advanced in age and if that happened today it would be worldwide news.

If we look at the genealogies in the gospels you will see that the messiah came from the line of ABRAHAM! He was there to bless ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD. Yes us Gentiles too! First the Jews but also the adopted or grafted in branches to that natural root and that is why I have biblical reasons to doubt a replacement theology position because if we were the replacement to the natural root then the plant itself would not stand as there would be no foundation.

V26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

And Peter confirms what I just said that Jesus was sent to the Jews first, to the ones who should have known better but the ones who reject the messiah will open the door by extension to the Gentile nations. Christ is a blessing and is an extension of God’s desire to bless his creation but he also desires first and foremost an intimacy with his creation and we have to be reconciled to God and trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins, the same is true for you dear reader today. I desire to see you as a dear brother or sister in heaven today and if you have not made that commitment then I desire that you do so because “now is the accepted time, today is God’s day of Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter four verses one through twelve when we see the reaction of the captain of the temple and the Sadducees to what was preached that day. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Then what becomes of our boasting? – Romans 3:27-31

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Then what becomes of our boasting? – Romans 3:27-31 – 03/06/2016

Romans 3:27 (ESV) Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse twenty seven of chapter three…

V27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Paul makes a great point here that boasting is not required and goes as far as to say that it is excluded because we are saved and justified by the grace of God, we could not earn it or be worthy of it, we have been gifted it in the same manner that we are given a birthday or Christmas gift. Paul goes at this point like a criminal prosecutor and would have made a terrific inductive bible study student, he asks the question “By what kind of law?” and whilst on the first glance it would appear the questioning may change the direction of the passage, that is not the case because Paul reaffirms his argument by the very asking of the question.

Pride is excluded (in the words of Paul) by the law of faith and it is completely foreign to the free gift of grace that we have been speaking about earlier in this article. Our grace that we have freely received is not something we can or should boast of because it was not of our doing or we were not regarded as special or pre-elected by God for this based on our merits and this is a stumbling block for many who desire a more difficult path to God, that it can’t be that simple.

It truly is that simple, we have been justified freely by his grace, and our righteous merits are described as “filthy rags” to the Holy God that we serve. This flies in the face of the pride that we want to have based on whatever righteousness we think that we have. None of it is ours and would not be possible without the love of a graceful God. Trust me folks! If I could figure it out anyone could!

V28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Think of it like a court case if you will, we are in the court of God who never has jurisdiction issues and who sees everything including our inner monologue (scared yet?) He sees our hearts, our intentions and what we did, when we did it and why we did it in a perfect system of justice. There is no legal counsel in the land that can get you off the sin that you have committed. You are as the Brits say “bang to rights” and “guilty as charged”.

That is not the end of the story however, you do have a defense and that is your redeemer Jesus Christ and should you put your faith in him and repent fully of your sins and turn your life around this defense will grant you an acquittal of the charges you face. Not because of what you have done because you are guilty (Romans 3:23 told you that already) but because of the free gift of salvation at the cross of Calvary. Luther called it “Sola Fide” (Latin – Faith alone)

Paul deals with an issue that we have seen in modern day Christianity that has led to the question “Are we justified by faith or works?” and I would conclude that we are justified by faith, however the works of the law will come as fruit of what you believe. You will be known by your works to show that you are the real deal and not a hypocrite. Paul asks how far reaching this salvation is, we see below…

V29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,

God’s righteousness goes over all boundaries, regardless of your heritage, regardless of your nationality, regardless of your sex, regardless of what tone your skin is God id the God of the whole world, of both the Jews and the Gentiles, I write this as a Gentile who has recognized his need for a redeemer and savior. I am no different to the man who is caught up in his sins and reading this other than I have humbled myself in the sight of the Lord and he has lifted me up and I am redeemed by that free gift of grace I so freely talk about.

V30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

In the same way that we ARE saved, we also RECEIVE it in the same way; the Jews have no other way to Heaven that the gentiles have no access to. Classic throwback to John 14:6 where Jesus told us that he was “THE WAY”. Whether we have completed the ritual of circumcision or not we are all justified by faith. Some Christians stop reading here but the last verse is vital to give the passage the balance that it requires.

V31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

It is a legitimate question; “if the law is not going to save us can we just get rid of it?” Or the question “Paul are you seriously going against the Law of God?” and I believe that Paul does not do that, he probably was accused of that but that is not what he was doing. Midway through this question he says the words “By no means” and he is by no means trying to contradict the law or make void the law, he is stating that the law was a means to know righteousness and no longer pointing to heaven as the messiah had come and paid that debt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we look forward to verses one through twelve where Paul explains further the full gravity of what he is talking about and that this was God’s plan all along and the law anticipated the coming of the messiah. This showing as Paul states at the end a desire to “uphold the law”. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8

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What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8 – 01/24/2016

Romans 3:1 (ESV) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 1 of chapter 3…

V1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?

Paul asks a series of questions starting with this one and the thought follows from the previous article where we finished chapter two, “here” is the article. Paul debates in that article whether possession of the law would save a Jewish person still in their sins and starts with this question. Paul answers this in verse 2…

V2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Paul extols the rich history of the Jewish relationship with God, they were given the “oracles of God” his word before the mission of Jesus Christ, they were his chosen people and were meant to be the ones that showed the gentiles the way to communion with God. God made covenants with them, he gave them his supreme law and Paul goes on to talk about the blessings and curses the Jewish people received based on their faithfulness to him…

V3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

Paul makes provision for the fact that not everyone in the Jewish faith would always be faithful, God is God and God is perfect. An example of this would be when he covenanted with Abraham that he was the one who took the covenant and walked where Abraham could not have. God will continue to be faithful regardless of our personal faithfulness and as a Christian who has been grafted into the family of God and not one of the natural branches I find that incredibly encouraging.

God when he loves us or works in us is not doing a futile work, yes he knows who will accept him and who will not and this is something that we can carry on today in our evangelism efforts we know that there will be those who will reject the promises and faithfulness of God and will go on believing a lie. The gospel will not fail because not everyone will receive it, Our place in the battle (the battle of course belongs to the LORD) is to be ready and willing to be in the place that God places us and ready to be used as a tool in his arsenal.

GOD IS FAITHFUL – Basic John 3:16 stuff here, God does love the world and that was the reason for Jesus sacrifice and regardless of your past you can still have a future and a use in the service of God. As much as I look good on here in the words I type, I wish I was as faithful to the service of God as I want to be. I fail and mess up as much as anyone who is reading this. (And possibly much more)

V4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

And that is the flip side of what we are talking about, for as unfaithful and untruthful and messed up by what we have experienced in this world, God is the reverse, in as much as we are liars God is truth and the simple fact that we are so unrighteous goes to show what a righteous God we serve. We cannot attain the heights of God or even hold a candle to his holiness but God will justify us and that is a brief look at the grace of God.

We cannot earn this or attain it, Jesus scoffed at the very notion of this stating that our “righteousness would have to exceed those of the scribes and Pharisees” meaning that we would have to keep as many standards as they did but do it with the right heart realizing that we are saved by grace as well as works, works should be the fruit of our salvation but completing a checklist will not save us.

V5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

And Paul goes on to make the point that I was touching on the last paragraph that our unrighteousness shows the righteousness of God, he then goes on to ask if God is unrighteous to inflict wrath upon us? We have to look at it from angles that have been wrongly justified in the past for this passage of scripture

• My sin gives God a job to do – to judge me! – This is incorrect as God does not desire that we sin, he desires obedience more than sacrifice (Read the book of Hosea if you need further clarification on that one!)
• My sin gives him glory, so I should go on sinning in order to be forgiven – God is a loving father who wants the best for his kids and I know that as a father if my child at age six was still making baby mistakes then I would be concerned for her development. We understand this but yet this is how many of us live our Christian lives.
• God cannot conquer xxx sin that I have – How big is your God? Are you serving he same one I am that created all that we see here in six literal days? What is your sin to this Big God? How big is your belief?

Let us get one thing straight here – God is not unrighteous in his wrath, your wickedness is still your wickedness, you have to own that! By our own efforts we are separated from God, if we choose to remain on that path then God is righteous in giving you your “due reward” for your rebellion against him. We have the same choice that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden to follow Gods plan or not.

Tonight in my bible study we are looking at Genesis 27 and the account of Jacob and the fact that he deceived his father by lying and presenting himself as Esau in order to steal the birthright from his brother Esau. In this scenario Jacob could present himself by stating “I sinned to allow your prophecy to be fulfilled, why would I be judged on this?” but as stated above his sin is still his sin, just because God used it to his glory does not make it any less his sin or less culpable.

V6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

Paul uses the world as an example. Make no mistake about it, the world will be judged and Paul knew that a day of judgment was coming where God would judge the evil and restore the good. The Jews knew the difference between righteousness and evil, the difference between being on Gods side and not. Where they erred was they believed that because they were Jewish they would automatically be counted as righteous.

V7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

Paul states that through his lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, so if what Paul does, even if it is not truthful it increases the glory of God then would it be justified and okay in God’s sight? This may seem odd but Paul gives reason behind this thought process in verse eight…

V8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Paul’s teachings were misinterpreted and twisted to make it sound like he was trying to pervert the teachings of God. However Paul goes on to explain here (and in the next article God willing) that the purpose of sinning for the sake of sinning or living a life in sin in order to perversely glorify God is not just alien but downright the reverse of what God wants in your life. Paul did not teach this but it is what was reported and accredited that it was said that he was teaching these doctrines.

We have to be careful in our doctrine that we don’t preach “free grace” in that we can live the lives that we want because we know that in the end up God is going to forgive us. That to me at least is not living the Christian life; we are not seeking to be like Christ and looking to grow at a healthy rate in our day to day relationship with Jesus. Paul preached (and we have evidence in the written epistles) that God will forgive our sins and give us salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not a works based check the box Levitical law system.

Paul agrees with them that they would be right to condemn such teachings; we have grace that we will be forgiven but we have to look at the heart of our sin. When we sin with a sin that we keep falling into, be honest and ask yourself “why did I plan to do this?” because we have accepted salvation and the things of this world, although they be appealing is a toilet bowl compared to what we are promised by God. We cannot serve two masters because we will love one and hate the other. If we choose to live such a life in unrepentance mocks the God that you claim to love so much. Looking forward Paul goes to look at how righteous we are in verses nine through twenty, I pray that God willing we get the opportunity to look at this together.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13

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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13 – 01/18/2016

Acts 2:5 (ESV) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this series of verses are probably the ones most quoted in a charismatic/speaking in tongues type assemblies and I have seen some great teachings on these verses and some not so great. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse five…

V5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Pentecost attracted men from all parts of the earth who just had to be in Jerusalem at that appointed time. We see that they were not originally from there as they were “dwelling” and being there on a temporary basis, I would imagine they would have arrived for Passover and would leave after Pentecost, however they were there for a much more divine appointment to just celebrate a Jewish festival and this happened at the end of their time in Jerusalem. God ordained this to happen to the biggest audience possible that would disperse to their own lands with this new gospel. Look at how they were going to be touched by God…

V6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Let’s get this correct…THEY HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE! This was the Tower of Babel reversed, God opened the ears of the people there supernaturally and they heard it spoken in words that they understood. I have no idea how they were seen by a multitude, perhaps they were on elevated ground, perhaps they were on a balcony, the text is not clear what is clear is the following…

• There was a sound that made the multitude come together
• It caused bewilderment that they spoke in their native tongue

Luke goes on to explain why…

V7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

They recognized these men as Galileans, possibly by their accent, possibly their dialect. Being a Scotsman in America, I speak the same language as the people who are from here but the way that I speak identifies me as Scottish.

This does not cause bewilderment, amazement or astonishment; they realize that as a business language I also speak English, this was a supernatural occurrence that God did for his glory. Luke goes to great lengths to explain the vast nature of the amount of possible tongues that would have been heard that day in verse nine…

V9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

What glory to God that so many different tongues were spoken and so many folks understood the message that was being given to them about the praises of God’s glory, God willing we will look at Peters Sermon which begins in Acts 2:14 and see what was being said to these people. God was outreaching both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians also. Everyone that was in attendance was able to hear about this Messiah!

Isn’t it amazing that God used men who were seen as uncultured, brash and uneducated? As a Scottish guy who barely passed high school with no college level education I am buoyed by this news that if you are willing, if you are where God wants you to be then he can use even the rawest of materials and turn them into something beautiful. In my case he used a man who was brash, uncouth, a drunkard who looked after number one (I could have been Galilean) and turned him into a man who lives to study and teach the word of God, a man who loves his wife and loves his daughter, what a testimony and what a Savior!

Based on what they had witnessed here, this was not your usual Pentecost! The people began to ask questions about what was going on around them, let’s look at verse twelve…

V12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

And here is where we get our title from, I actually blagged it from a musical hero of mine called Sammy Horner and a band he played in called “The Electrics” and they had a song called “Visions and Dreams” which many of their fans (well at least 5 of us) thought this was their Sargent Pepper or Bohemian Rhapsody. Anyways, waaaaay to long an introduction as usual!

The question they asked was a legitimate question, it was obvious that something supernatural was happening so a question of “what does this mean?” is not to unreasonable a question. This was not answered at this time but should we get to Peters sermon then you will see that Peter answers the question. They were accused of being drunk but as we read it was only the third hour of the day (9am) and it is not uncommon when God moves that he is mocked. I hope and pray that we get to the next article to hear Peters sermon.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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A 1% compass error is still wrong

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April 10, 2015

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the fourth chapter of First Timothy.

Some Will Depart from the Faith

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Even although Paul wrote this to Timothy nearly 2000 years ago, this letter is as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet. I can’t switch on a computer (A lot of the news groups I subscribe to on Facebook and Twitter are Christian) without seeing some of what Paul mentions here, today!

Paul advises that “in later times some will depart from the faith,” much like we did in chapter three, lets break this down as Paul states in the verses…

1) Devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons – The people who are leaving will be deceived, much like Eve was in the Garden of Eden. They will follow their own way rather than God’s way.

Demons are very powerful and as we mentioned Eve was tripped up by someone who knew exactly what God said and knew that that person did not have their theology straight. The deceit will start with a very small percentage of a lie with a large portion of the truth (could be 99% true and 1% twisted) and that small dilution of what is pure will be enough to steer someone’s faith off course.

An example of this would be a tracker who is not using GPS and is reliant on basic navigational tools such as a compass. If he was set to go on a journey at 0 degrees North and misreads the compass and sets off at 1 degree North, when he travels 5 miles he will be far away from where he is seeking to go. That is how important that 1% is.

They will give themselves away from the faith of Jesus Christ and follow the teaching of demons. They will go from a backsliding state into a full rebellion of God. They will follow those who have already rebelled against God on that oft trodden path to an eternity without God. How tragic.

We have to be alert to not fall into the snare of false teaching. Doctrines that do not recognize Jesus as the messiah, doctrines that state that Jesus is not the messiah or that there are many ways to heaven. False religions, cults, and anything else that is a lie from the pit of hell, we cannot be involved in it!

Please take it from me, one who has left the faith and I am in the low percentage. I am one who came back after sampling the world! Once they leave the church and decide that the church has nothing for them and they decide not to believe the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ then they will continue to follow their own path. (I know I did for about a decade – for more information check out my “testimony” page)

2) Through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared – Paul tells it how it is, once they leave they will use the insincerity of their own lies to justify their new lifestyle. As the standards slip and they take a slow fade (some slower than others) into sin, they will embrace all manner of contortions in order to justify their actions.

In my case I tried to lead a double life, I lived the church life on a Sunday and even hung out with folks in the fellowship as occasion demanded. But my real self was living a party life and I reconciled that by keeping in with God on a Sunday. I tried to do a weird balancing act which simply was not doing anyone any favors.

Eventually I stopped reading the bible, threw out the theology and went my own way. As Paul states here when he speaks of the conscience, there would have been a time when I would have had a theological check that I was doing something in error, I had seared my conscience to a point that I had justified “my version of the truth” and was dead to feeling what the living word had to say to me.

Paul knew all about this, I bet that before Damascus he had justified in his own heart that what he was doing to the Christians was correct, the persecution, torture and death of these people that once his eyes had been opened, he realized how much he had grieved the LORD. He was also grateful for God’s mercy that he was counted able to be used.

3) Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth – You will remember in a previous article I spoke on those who would try to convert the Gentiles into Jews by have them follow the Law in addition to their Christian faith, Paul touches on this as an example to Timothy here.

Paul always will maintain the truth, which it is the grace of God and not the rules we keep that will make us righteous with God. What the legalists forget is that their Savior when he was on this earth had most to say about the ones who thought they were holier than God. Here is the deal! We need God more than he needs us.

God will never owe us anything and we can’t work our way to “out holy” God. We will never be like the LDS church claims and be Gods. That lie is the very reason why Lucifer is no longer leading worship in the heavenly choir, he knew he was beautiful and wanted to be God.

V3b) that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth

The fact that they will depart does not mean that they will leave that assembly and go elsewhere. Paul is stating that they will depart and not return to any assembly, that they will depart from the faith and slide into apostasy. Many will meet on their own, some will not meet at all and it will be a rainbow of unbelief and false religion all stemming from that 1% lie. (See how dangerous this is?)

Unfriendly fire from the outside

Even although these people will not wish to be part of the assembly, this will not stop them commenting about things that still go on in the assembly that they wished not to be a part of. They will be the legalists, they will be the mockers. I know it sounds like I am talking about both groups in the same way, but I am mentioning two opposite ends of a spectrum based on people who leave. They will either leave to their own sins, or leave to pursue their own doctrine and their own version of religious extremism.

V4) For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Paul flips the last point made (Point # 3) around by giving the truth, that what we eat is not what makes us holy. It is the heart behind how we receive them. In modern day Christianity we say grace before every meal, but I challenge you, how grateful are you for that meal that was put down in front of you? Are you grateful for the clothes you wear, the roof over your head, the vehicle you drive and even the device you are reading this article on.

Robotic prayers

Please be careful that it does not get ritualistic a kind of “Dear Jesus, thanks for this food, please let it bless our bodies” (Let me cover all the holy bases before I say Amen) Jesus warns about this in Matthew 6, especially in verse 5 and 7…

Matthew 6:5 (ESV) “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Basically search your heart, talk to God, and tell him what’s on your heart and what you are grateful for. (Might get a bit awkward if you have guests over!)  Paul states that the food is holy due to the word of God and prayer, so let’s bless the food. Don’t make a show and go too far the other way, but be grateful to God for all he has provided for us.

We have liberty in what we eat

We are told that nothing is to be rejected on the grounds of religious curtail, we are not limited by diet, God will see us no more righteous if we eat fish on a Friday or Steak pie! This is in line with Acts 10 which reads….

Acts 10:9 (ESV) The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

That is not to say that if we eat fast food 24/7 and drink soda instead of water that we won’t have health issues. God has given us license to make our own decisions regarding our food and drink but we also have a responsibility to ourselves to eat in a balanced fashion.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE