One of our friends that has attended previous weekends with us, has made a statement that we appear to be living in a time warp, that we only concentrate on Paul and that we neglect other Scripture which makes us narrow minded and tunnel visioned.
Now, listening to the criticism, we should always listen to what others say, and ensure that our studies and our knowledge of God's plan and purpose are always wide enough in scope that they give an accurate and concise contrast into how Our God and Father is working out His purpose for humanity.
For indeed, although the overwhelming majority of humanity at this time are vessels of dishonour, they are indeed never outside of His all consuming love. It is only a matter of time and the carrying out of prophetic events, that they also will become aware that throughout this whole period of ever increasing apostasy, there has been a God who controls the universe, but has closed the door of heaven for a period, leaving it under the seeming control of the god of this eon, the one who appears as a messenger of light!
There is one event that is the foundation of and cause of all history, and it did not commence on earth. That event concerned the personage of God, as being exclusively all within Himself, being the AL the Supreme and Subjector of all as He was to now be, in taking counsel with Himself to commence creation, which brought forth His Son!
We learn from the prison epistles that the present economy is and has to be one of God's closely kept secrets, never before revealed to mankind. Many have never arrived at this juncture, and are therefore ignorant as to the vital necessity to correctly partition the Scriptures, for these never lie or contradict themselves, but must be read in light of God's further revelations!
When we study the Pentecostal administration, which most of us have done without realising its proper place in Scripture, we notice how it dovetails into Old Testament prophecy and promise, allied with all of the promises to the twelve apostles and promise of a future kingdom on this earth. John, and other prophets were all aware of the significance of Pentecost, how the spirit came upon saints and caused great outpourings of prophecy etc. Paul by contrast does not deem to even draw any analogy, other than to concur that Peter also spoke truth in the light of future prophetic fulfillments.
Paul goes away from Jerusalem and although two cities are prominent, Rome takes on the mantle of future events, as he is taken there to spend the rest of his life in captivity, directly as a consequence of what his fellow citizens had demanded of Imperial Rome. God had hovered over His disbelieving nation since Pentecost and the close of the book of Acts, offering from the words of our Lord that the kingdom was near, and indeed would have come, if there had been faith and belief. In seeing how the Jews rejected the crucified Saviour, and the kingdom, we see a similarity between this exodus and its old Testament counterpart, for as Israel was left scattered and shut out from the land through unbelief, so the close of Acts sees the nation shut out of the kingdom and excluded from it by the same wretched sin of unbelief! I might add, if they had of accepted the kingdom, where would you and I be today? How marvelous and far sighted is God's wisdom and love for all!
The prison epistles, including Philemon and 2 Timothy, were written from Rome in prison. The rest of the epistles of Paul are written predominantly to gentile believers and before his incarceration.
The other books of the New Testament are all confined to the ministry of Messiah, within the land of Palestine and to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!
In Paul's writings, no mention is made of our Lord's earthly ministry, neither His miracles, sermons or dealings with and the leading up to His crucifixion and death. Everything alludes to His death, burial and resurrection. It is all subsequent to, and has as its commencement in the fact that Christ had died and was resurrected.
Peter's ministry accepts the fact that Messiah had ascended, but contains no new teaching with it, other than Psalm 110 cited by Peter in Acts 2:34 Sit thou at my right hand, until I make your foes my footstool! While Peter fully concurs that Messiah is in heaven, it is only for a little while, for all of the twelve apostles agree with Peter, that this earth is the future sphere of Messiah's rule, and would soon appear. Indeed, to those now under the ministry of Paul, any reference to Messiah is never used, for He is the Son of God, and later to be revealed as the Head of the Body, that body being the body of Christ, in which all believers today are knowingly or unknowingly attached!
In Paul's ministry to gentiles, and any Jew that also accepted the risen Christ, heaven alone is the future destiny of saints, and this earth is to be under the rulership of a restored nation of Israel that will have a company of kings and priests, plus 144000 that will administer righteousness on this earth to all other nations. They will be ruled under Christ with a rod of iron, within which sin and evil will be given quick and speedy justice, and to where contamination of others will be speedily eliminated. Christ, when on this earth in the next eon, will be the epitome of all previous attempts by human beings to exercise righteous rule, which in the following eon of the new heavens and new earth will be a benign rule, for evil will have been eliminated. But even there, God will still not yet be All in All as He will be in us when we receive our glorious celestial new bodies!
Never let us forget, especially to those that we may be a witness to in the future, that while all Scripture is for us, it is not all about us. The deliberate and twisting out of context of Scripture has proceeded down the era of time, and was present in Paul's day in the form of apostasy from truth. For instance, many have been diverted from truth, and the love of God in this day of grace by such attempts to make the book of Hebrews as applicable to us today, with all of its warnings, as opposed to the certainty of spiritual blessings in Ephesians. Hebrews stands uniquely alone, for as it may resemble the O T book of Leviticus in the New Testament, it strongly advocates the actions of priesthood, which is the prerogative of Israel alone, and actions regarding sin. In all of Paul's writings this is completely out of place even though in one place Paul regards himself as the priest of the evangel of God! (Rom 15:20)
Peter's ministry has as its theme the fact that he and the other eleven apostles would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. His epistles are distinctly Jewish and speak of a holy nation and having a royal priesthood. Wherever you look in his writings, they are connected with the Jews and Jerusalem. His remit is to receive the keys of the kingdom, not to have a worldwide appeal to the new and vibrant group which was to become the ecclesia under the apostleship of Paul.
When we read Galatians, and recall how Paul confronted Peter to the face over the two evangels, one distinctly of the circumcision which was still in effect and was attempting to be foisted on the gentile believers to make them more acceptable to God, Paul did not mince his words and made it completely clear that those of repute who were of the circumcision and from James in Jerusalem, could add nothing to the evangel that was exclusively Paul's, for no longer was God requiring sacrifice and repentance in the manner of old, but perceived that "a man is not being justified by the works of the law, except alone through the faith of Christ Jesus, seeing that by the works of the law shall no flesh at all be justified!"
Paul is revealing a fact here that must have astounded many who were of the law, for he states clearly that through law, not the law given at Sinai, but the amazing law of Christ's death being the exclusive act that covers all previous sins of omission and commission, all attempts to gain one's own righteousness, are all impossible, because, in Christ's death resurrection and life alone is salvation. He not only was above the law in perfection, but law itself can never be found to be a giver of life beyond the one we have, and therefore Christ exceeds all that any law can rightly bestow, for indeed if righteousness is through law, consequently Christ died gratuitously or in vain. (Galatians 2:21.) You see dear friends, what Paul is revealing and must have astounded those who were of Peter's ministry, is that Christ is the consummation or termination of all law keeping for righteousness to everyone who is believing. (Romans 10:4)
Paul has already prefaced this statement with the appreciation that he was unable to carry these Jews into this new revelation. He starts this same chapter with the petition to God for their sake for salvation. They have a zeal of God, but because God is now dealing primarily with the nations, and has no requirement for law keeping, they are found to be ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, were not subject to the righteousness of God.
All teaching today that expounds the necessity to keep law, rituals and ordinances, days of the week, Sabbaths etc are teaching misplaced truth that is out of context with God's requirements, and although many of them may well be part of the body of Christ, but are locked into sectarianism and denominational obedience, they can never progress into the spiritual maturity that Paul wishes on all of those that understand the evangel of grace!
How many times may any of us turn on our radios or TV and see and hear messages based on the Hebrew Scriptures with great stories of happenings to Israel or to some of its prophets, attempting to draw analogies with how we live or believe today. God's word is sacred and should never be sneered at or belittled, but events that happened thousands of years ago are for our learning from, but not that we should implicitly follow them in like manner.
Figures of a shepherd and his sheep that are prominent in John's gospel and also in Peter's are used in reference with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. David, the shepherd king is known by most of us from our kindergarten years to be a forerunner and a type of Christ. He had his failings and yet was referred to as a man after God's own heart, and the future regent on this earth when Christ will be attending other celestial duties in the future.
There is a beautiful shepherd psalm that is David's, and refers to the time when the lion shall lie down with the lamb, and David will act in solicitude over his flock that will then be Israel.
Isaiah speaks of the fact that the nation of Israel have all like sheep gone astray. He is also reminding the nation that Messiah is the sacrificial Lamb who was led as a lamb to the slaughter. In the Greek Scriptures The Son of David looks with compassion upon the multitude, they being the sheep without a shepherd. He speaks of Himself as being the Good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep, to whom John points as the forerunner as, Behold the Lamb of God!
In the closing chapters of John we read of our Lord's command to Peter to Feed my sheep! Peter's ministry is confined to the circumcision, nothing more than the sheep of Hebrew testimony!
Is it not revealing and also totally conclusive that Paul took on none of these references. Nowhere in Paul's writings are the believers today ever referred to as sheep, we do not have a shepherd in that respect and although Paul knew far better than any of us the real meaning of all of the titles that Christ and the nation would yet be availed with, he was revealing to us a far more mature appreciation of all that the death and resurrection of Christ means for us today. No longer do we need kingdom Scripture in agricultural and farming figures of speech that were meant to help the Jew understand his Messiah's role, for we take on a different mantle, which is one of sonship and a secret economy which God had concealed from previous administrations in Himself!
What Paul reveals in stages, leading up to the glories that are revealed in his prison epistles, is the mystery that reveals a dispensation which is not a period of time, but a system of arrangements to humankind within which God exclusively reveals the actions of His throne and sphere of operations. There is therefore by the revelation of Scripture no further system or economy that can be regarded as a complete secret as was the present one of which we are a part of.
When we appreciate that a dispensation is not a period of time, but solely of God's arrangements of His plan and purpose for humanity and the celestial bodies, we can put our finger on the error that has confused many students of Scripture that have been sidetracked and derailed where there have been more than one dispensation running at any given time. When this present economy was revealed, it is quite clear that the Kingdom of God was still being preached in the book of Acts and attested to by Paul. It is clear that there were with Paul those of the circumcision that were of a "solace" to Paul, whose names were in the scroll of life, and therefore although associated with Paul, were actually awaiting a different outcome.(Colossians 4:10).
Even after Paul had been teaching his evangel for some time, James Peter and John still witnessed by the content of their epistles to the coming Kingdom as prophesied by the earlier prophets. It is significant that the holy spirit reveals through Peter that he acknowledged Paul's teachings difficult to understand, but never denied that it was of God and was justifiably now extant on the earth. (2 Peter 3:15) Dear friends, Peter and the other apostles were never meant to grasp it, for their names are written above each of the twelve entrances to Jerusalem, for that is where their destiny lies.
What a catastrophe it would have been if all that came into contact with Paul had believed his evangel, indeed it would be similar to today when Scripture is read out without any thought of its real meaning, and therefore references that are quite clearly written about the coming kingdom on this earth, are confused with going to heaven and matters that are clearly of a celestial nature! No wonder that so many are completely led astray by the mixing of truth with half truth, with one evangel and administration and another! Truly the god of this world, rubs his hands with delight at the confusion and stifling of spiritual understanding of the most comprehensive and heavenly destiny that awaits those who are His, and who will see the Adversary and his cohorts expelled from the heavens very close to our calling above.(Rev 12:1)
No dear friends, by God's permission and by the timing of His saving of all, He has allowed the power of evil administered by the Adversary to blind the hearts and eyes of most, so that in the summing up of all future events, evil and sin must be given their full period of office so that the necessity of the only one that can save this planet, Christ Jesus, will return to wake up the whole of the human race that indeed there was a God in heaven the whole time, but because of Christ and His sacrifice for all, He the Father has closed the doors of heaven to all others than those who pray to Him in and by spirit, that His will be done in quickly bringing to a conclusion that man does not want the rule of God, they will fight Him and His Christ.
Even then, God is so merciful that He cuts short the time of His woes, seven bowls of fury and judgments that destroy the arrogance and vanity of mankind in their obsession for wealth and personal power!
It is therefore to Paul that we must go to if we wish to be enlightened, for he holds nothing back of the counsel of God He had held with His people, and reserves His secret purpose until the beautiful epistle to Ephesians was written. Anyone who tells you that this is too narrow a field and refutes other clear Scripture that also holds truth is scripturally unintelligent, or unable to rightly divide, which is, I am afraid, the error of most!
Dear friends, always be prepared for a lonely walk in truth, for many will demonstrate having a form of devoutness, yet deny its power as Paul states in his last epistle of 2 Timothy 3. Paul exhorts us to shun them, which means not to continually get involved in arguing over the Scriptures which only causes a further widening of any fellowship that may be evident! Isolation is often made for us by others that deny grace without works is extant today. God deals with all in His good time!!
Several years ago there was an unwritten policy that we tended not to discuss prophecy, that it was for those of the end time Faithful woman and those taken to a place of safety before the indignation and return of Christ, which the counting of days will aid the Jews in awareness of. None of that is for us!
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are clearly informed that those who are part of the body are to be waiting for His Son out of the heavens. It has sometimes been stated that this is all that is required, and as Paul in Corinthians tells us in 13:8 that whether prophecies they will be discarded. This may appear to be the only event that should consume our future lives, and therefore not to get involved in predictions that are often made and bring God's word into disrepute.
We know that false prophets will abound towards the end, as they have been throughout history. The end of the world did not end in January 2013 by a South American Myan theory, and this causes further derision toward God and is a ploy of the Adversary.
I would point out that the believer in 1 Thessalonians 5 is warned that the day of the Lord is as a thief in the night. They were now not in darkness that the day may be overtaking them as a thief, for they were all sons of the light and sons of the day. Paul goes on to exhort them not be drowsing, but that they may be watching and be sober. He explains to them that they have an expectation of salvation, for God did not appoint us to indignation, but to the procuring of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. should be living together at the same time with Him.
He then goes on to console them with the truth that whether we may be WATCHING or drowsing we should be living together at the same time with Him.
My question is, what are we watching for? Do we look and listen for the shout of command, and the piercing sound of the trumpeting physically, or also a spiritual awareness of the signs of the times that Paul further warns about in the Second book of Thessalonians, where it must be that the detainer that is detaining, (the revealing of the man of lawlessness), is the removal of the body of Christ from this earth! The later revelations in Ephesians are more greatly appreciated by understanding Thessalonians and Corinthians, and the development of our prior expectancy and standing in Christ!
Daniel was a Jew who rose to the third highest position in the Chaldean empire, and carried it also into the Medo-Persian empire of Darius. His name means Adjudication by Deity. He is important to us because he not only deals with the rule of the nations whilst Israel is set aside in ignorance, but deals also with the four world ruling gentile religions that are present on the earth at this time, and how they are ruled by wicked celestial powers that Paul further enlightens us on in the 6th chapter of Ephesians. God is carrying out His purpose all through this present administration of Grace, and it is the key to human history in the past, a clue to its future and peace in appreciating God's actions.
The seventh chapter of Daniel is one that all of us should be familiar with, for it discusses the world religions that are present on this earth at the end time, and are not the same four powers that are evident in chapters two and eight and are the four successive world ruling empires that many have seen and agreed on, but are ignorant of as to the monstrous animal of Rev 13. This shows a fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on its head seven diadems, which was like a leopardess, and its feet were as a bear's, and its mouth as the mouth of a lion. The dragon gives it its power and great authority. These are the animals of Daniel seven, and are the four great world ruling religions of our time, with many small offshoots.
It is vitally important that we notice that on the dragon each of its seven heads has a diadem, but when transferred to the ten horns of the wild beast they collectively are given this insignia. So, the authority of the adversary which was delegated to the seven spirits next to him in his organization, is NOT transferred to the seven heads of the religious powers, but vested in the military powers which belong to christendom in the era of the end! These will be his agents in bringing into force the one world federation which is an earthly power denying the existence of God, and worshipping the man of lawlessness as Paul states in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5.
Paul never had the advantage of the book of Revelation and therefore the events that correlate with Daniel and are more easily understood when placed together. It clearly shows that in the religious Temple section of Revelation 13, the animals are composite and form one great wild beast that the dragon gives its power to.
If you have read Mr Knoch's studies in the Book of Daniel, you will appreciate that there has been no other bible commentator that has shown these animals to be these world religions. He then reveals that in Revelation 13 these religions are all moulded into one composite beast. If you have read further, you will have seen that the leopardess in Daniel is identified with Islam. Paul knew nothing about Islam, for it never appeared on the scene until the seventh century AD. I have no doubt that Paul was very aware of the end time by other revelations he received, but he cannot interpret that which John was yet to write by later divine revelation. Thank God for these studies, that give us an insight into revelations of the future by a messenger to Daniel that made him fall flat on his face and to be physically sick! He shudders in his spirit and leaves his head in visions of flustering! So should we at what is very close to taking place!!
Reading Daniel 7 you will see the affinity and likeness of each animal to its religion. In verse 6 you read the following In place of this perceiving am I, and behold, another animal, as a leopardess; she has four flyers wings on her arched back, and four heads has the animal. Jurisdiction is being granted to her! May I impress upon you that statement!!
The leopardess is very speedy, with wings it is accentuated. It has an arched back that gives the impression of being ready to pounce. It has four heads which are the four legalistic heads of Islam that are diverse in laws and actions. Jurisdiction is being granted to her. This means rule and authority and subjugation of others. This is exactly where we are in Scripture at this time. Islam is rapidly spreading its wings in a desire for legalistic political authority in countries other than its own. This has already had a marked affect on many western nations, for Islam is intent on setting up their own rules and regulations and disregard of other countries democratic customs. We now turn from the past and present to the future!!
Read the next verse, and you will see that it is the emergence of the fourth animal, terrifying and awful, with monstrous iron teeth, devouring and pulverising, and stamping on the rest with her feet. This has to be the emergence of the end time power that is led by false Christendom, and devours the others.
Do we not see that the God of heaven, in these closing actions of the book of Daniel shows exactly what we as believers should be aware of and watching develop, to the glory of God and His purpose, "for God is operating the universe in accord with the counsel of His will!"
We have no need to worry, for Christ comes for us prior to God unleashing His judgment and indignation. If someone asks me where we are in prophetic terms, regarding gentile not Jewish prophecy, I say to them, read the seventh chapter of Daniel up until the sixth verse, and that is where the world is at this time!
Christendom is aware of the actions of the other animals, they will combine religion and state and not tolerate global bankruptcy and isolation, and will pounce. The west will yet be involved in possible trade wars that will culminate in seeing the affluence of the east, and jealously take it by force subduing the rest of the world and its religions, making a one world religion without God!
In closing dear friends, anyone with spiritual insight into these events should see as never before, the closing period of this day of Grace rapidly approaching. Philosophy coupled with human seduction and the elements of the world not in accord with Christ are not for us, for we are the complement of the Deity within which Christ is dwelling bodily, and you, me and all who love His appearance are complete in Him. It is utterly impossible to earn this or in any way be worthy by human standards.
Only in Christ, who is our Head and by His faithfulness and obedience to God, has He taken away all of our offences, making a triumph over them and gaining for us firstly, and eventually for all, to be manifested together with Him in glory!!
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