Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Philippians 2:17-18 - (L 20)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)
  
Welcome to Home Bible Study.

“…That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (generation), among whom ye shine as lights in the world.  Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ (the Rapture), that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (2:15-16).

Last week we learned Paul’s desire was not to be compared to an athlete who trained rigorously only to realize all that effort and energy amounted to nothing or was in vain.  For him the greatest prize this life had to offer was to know unsaved people were hearing the word of life from the Philippians and because of this in the day of Christ he may rejoice because his labor had not been in vain.

The O.T. reveals the LORD God disciplined the nation of Israel time and time again because of their murmurings (complaining) against Moses’ leadership which demonstrated a lack of faith in the LORD (Jehovah) to keep His covenant promises.  Their ungrateful attitudes combined with their lack of faith in what God had said prevented them from becoming a “nation of priests”(Exodus 19:5-6) for the purpose of drawing the Gentile nations to God’s Light (Isaiah 49:6).

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you (Zechariah 8:23).

The same murmurings, disputing, and self-centeredness in the church today are preventing the Body of Christ from realizing its full potential as lights in the world.  I don’t know what you believe, but as for me, I believe the world’s a much darker place now then it was decades ago.  This is largely due to the removal of God, the Bible, and prayer from public view by the Supreme Court (See “The Warren Court, 1953-1969).  It’s been all down-hill from there (pun intended) because the word of life is rarely heard outside the church and some homes and this nation is paying a heavy price.

I mentioned last week a working lighthouse was instrumental in keeping our ship and its crew from running aground or something much worse.  It was meant to help y’all understand what you do with the word of life matters to God and the world-at-large.  The Philippian church had some “grumpy Gus’s” who were not on the same page with their brethren.  Their behavior was not only a distraction to the world-at-large; their hypocrisy seriously marred the gospel of peace and their personal testimony.

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Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:17-18.

Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.  For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

I find it odd that Paul used the terms offered and sacrifice here.  It makes me think 1) he believed both Jews and Gentiles would read this letter or hear it read aloud; or 2) He assumed his audience had a working knowledge of the Old Testament, or 3) both.  I’m going with #3, both.

Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith – according to the O.T., the terms offered and sacrifice is part and parcel of the Jewish sacrificial system.  The first recorded occurrence of a drink offering was given by Jacob in Genesis 35:14, right after God changed his name to Israel (means: struggles with God) at the river Jabbok (Genesis 32:28). 

The drink offering or libation is mentioned in only three places in the book of Leviticus. When the sheaf of the firstfruits was waved before the Lord, a grain offering was to be burned, along with "its libation, a fourth of a hin of wine (approximately one gallon)" (Leviticus 23:13).  Similarly, libations were to be offered with the lambs, bull, and rams offered on the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:18).  A general statement is made concerning libations in Leviticus 23:37:  "These are the appointed times of the Lord which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire (or, food offerings) to the Lord — burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, each day’s matter on its own day."

More elaborate instructions for the drink offering are found in Numbers 15.  There, the Israelites were commanded to offer a libation of wine with all burnt offerings and "sacrifices," the latter being a common term for the peace offering (Numbers 15:8; 1 Samuel 9:12-13; 1 Kings 8:62-63). 

There’s more information to be found in scripture re: the drink offering, but I think you’re starting to get the idea.  Paul is likening the sacrifice of service to the Philippians to the burnt offering in time past, which was a sweet savor offering that was well pleasing to God.  It’s worth mentioning this was a voluntary sacrifice done in the Lord’s service (Leviticus 1:3). 

In Koine Greek, the word “offered” is Spendo (spen’-do), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4689, meaning:  to pour out as a drink offering and by using this word Paul means to say this is “occurring to him right now. 

This word only appears twice in the N.T. here and in 2 Timothy 4:6:

For I am now ready to be offered (poured out), and the time of my departure is at hand.     

When Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians and his second letter to Timothy, he was “a prisoner of Christ” (Ephesians 3:1).  He wrote to the Philippians while under “house arrest” a.k.a. a rented house in Rome.  His second letter to Timothy was written from Mamertine Prison a dank, dark dungeon in Rome.  At this point in time he believed his departure was at hand.  No reprieve would be received from Emperor Nero; he believed he would be executed and he was circa 67-68 AD; about two years before the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s Temple in 70 AD. 

In verses 2:17-18, Paul’s actually saying, since his conversion, his life could be compared to a “drink offering.  After reviewing his written testimony to the Corinthians, I think y’all will have a better understanding of what is saying:  Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

Per Paul, if you’re a Believer, you can expect to encounter suffering in your life.  I think I’m “preaching to the choir,” but I’ve included two Bible verses in support of this truth:

For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

“Persecutions, afflictions (sufferings), which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.  Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:11-12). 

These scripture passages inform us tribulations will occur in our lives.  The Greek word for suffering is translated as tribulation, meaning:  anything that causes distress (stress).  This covers a broad spectrum from minor annoyances to major problems or ordeals such as losing your job, your marriage, your home to a fire or a hurricane; the death of a family member or a life-threatening disease such as cancer.  Paul gave every true Believer a “heads-up” in saying distress will come your way, but he doesn’t leave us “hanging;” in Romans 5 he tells us how to respond to those tribulations in our lives:

And not only so, but we glory (to exult with joy; to rejoice) in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

This is where many people throw up their hands and say “What in the world are you talking about?  Do you mean to say God wants me to rejoice when I am hurting mentally or physically?  That’s not normal.”  Most people feel this way.   Still, we are new creatures in Christ and “all things are brand new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This teaching may be “brand new” to some of you, but it is informative to understand the Scriptures declare all those in Christ Jesus will suffer afflictions (a state of pain, distress, or grief):  

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).

And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21-22).

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  So then death worketh in us, but life in you.  We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.  For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.  For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us ya far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2 Corinthians 4:7-17).

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-13).

No one enjoys suffering, but suffering is a necessary, normal part, of the Believer’s life (walk). In fact, the Scripture says we can expect hardships and suffering to increase:

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).

Many people balk when they hear this information and that’s because it makes no sense to them or they heard differently.  So let’s be clear, if you’re one of those people who think after you became a Believer suffering is no longer connected to your life , or you don’t believe that’s what the Bible says, then you have either been misled or self-deceived.  Paul said prepare for hardships. 

How do I do that?  I’m glad you asked.  God gives us grace and the strength to overcome every trial in our lives and to fulfill His perfect will (good pleasure) in them.  In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he shares some important truths about how we can endure suffering. 

1) Don’t forget why you are sufferingRemember your purpose and whom you serve. Paul said he was willing to suffer for the preaching of the gospel, for the sake of the elect, and for the glory of God.  Our suffering, major or minor, can be used to bring about the same purposes (2 Timothy 2:8-9). 

2)  Remember you are a prisoner of Christ, not of your circumstances or other people.  (2 Timothy 1:8). 

3)  Return to the things you know to be true from God’s Word.  Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light.  Remember what you received as a result of your salvation in Christ (2 Timothy 1:5).  Remember your calling and the grace of God (2 Timothy 1:1, 9-13).

4)  Keep doing whatever God has called you to do.  Persevere, stay the course, and be faithful, regardless of opposition or hardship (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

5)  Trust God to deal with those who oppose the truth.  Don’t take matters into your own hands or become argumentative and vindictive (2 Timothy 2:23-26). 

6)  Remember times in the past when the Lord delivered or rescued you.  Be quick to praise Him and be a witness to others (2 Timothy 3:11, 4:16-17). 

7)  Rely on and trust the resources God has given to all those in Christ:

The grace of God - (2 Timothy 1:2, 9, 2:1, 4:22). 
The gift of God— your God-given ability to serve Him (2 Timothy 1:6-7). 
The indwelling Holy Spirit - (2 Timothy 1:14). 
The power of God - (2 Timothy 1:8; Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 6:10). 
The Word of God, which keeps you grounded and gives you the proper perspective - (2 Timothy 2:7, 9, 3:12-17, 4:1-2).

8)  Remember that you are not alone in your suffering.  You already have:

The Lord Jesus Christ in you (Romans 8:10-20; Galatians 2:20).
The “fellowship of suffering,” that is, a community of like-minded Believers who are facing hardships similar to yours’ for the sake of the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8; Colossians 1:24). 
And the prayers of the saints (2 Timothy 1:3). 

Remember the pattern we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8).  The Lord was “highly exalted and given a name which is above every name” by God the Father after He endured the sufferings of the cross.  Jesus Christ understood the path which led to God’s glory was a path of sacrifice and suffering; a path of self-denial:

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: (John 17:1).

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Philippians 2:15b-16 - (L 19)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)
  
Welcome to HBS.

“Do all things without murmurings (whispered complaints) and disputing (disagreements):  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (generation), among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain (2:14-16).

Today we pick up right where we left off last week and if a title was necessary I’d call it “Stop Being Argumentative: Part II.”  In verses 2:15-16 our Apostle Paul gave the saints in Philippi reasons why they’re to “put offmurmurings and disputing.

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Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:15b.

It’s been rightly said “First impressions are lasting,” so what do you suppose would happen if an unbeliever saw professed Believers walking hand-in-hand with the world-at-large, that is, overly ambitious, argumentative, self-indulgent (lacking self-control in the pursuit of personal interests) and incapable of getting along with one another?  Would you say they’d be eager to join such an assembly or eagerly seek an exit? 

Paul said they were to be “blameless and harmless sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation…,” which means some of these folks were not blameless and harmless some were living in carnality.  So Paul’s urging them to turn from that unfruitful activity so the Lord can use them in a greater way.  Simply said, they could not effectively preach (herald) the gospel of peace to the lost when there was so much visible unrest in the church.   Paul wanted these Believers to practice or live out what they were supposedly preaching because their wayward activity dishonored the Lord Christ Jesus and the gospel of peace:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (Ephesians 2:13-22).

Here Paul’s saying the good news of peace with God is when the Lord Jesus Christ shed His divine blood for the sins of all, two types of enmity (extreme hostility between enemies) were overcome.  The enmity between God and lost mankind and the enmity between dissenting groups (the Jews and the Gentiles) was brought to an end (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28).  The Lord Jesus Christ became our peace. 

The word “crooked” in verse 2:15 means:  bent, curved; winding in moral conduct, devious.  A sociologist rightly labeled our present culture as narcissistic and self-indulgent, which means nothings’ changed since the first century.  According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was an attractive young man who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.  Today this word is used to mean excessive self-love.

Wouldn’t you say this attitude or mindset characterizes our society today?  Have you ever tried to be friendly with someone who is only concerned about themselves, what they have to say, and gets visibly upset when you try to chime in?  Your concerns, interests, and feelings are unimportant.  These people seek to be the center of attention at all times because they are in love with themselves.  In referencing the last days, Paul addressed the issue of excessive self-love, among other things, in his second letter to Timothy:   

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:2-5a).

Contrast that worldly attitude with Paul’s spirituality in Philippians 4:10-13:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased (humble), and I know how to abound.  Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The generation in Paul’s day was “crooked” in the sense of being wicked (Galatians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2; Titus 2:12), so what’s changed, yes, I know; but here Paul’s saying their wickedness was exceedingly grievous because they were departing from the truth.  What does this mean?  I’m glad you asked.  It means to distort or twist the Word of God (2 Peter 3:14-18).  One truth they distorted was the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and their denial made them “perverse” (obstinate, stubborn).    

As I said, nothing’s changed; people are still ditching the truth for whatever sounds good to them.  For instance, a movie titled The Da Vinci Code was released some time ago and in it they perverted the scriptures implying Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene, with whom He had children.  They go on to say before His death He made her the leader of the church.  One word describes this distortion of the truth and that is “wickedness.”  There is no basis of fact whatsoever historically or biblically for this movie or its content.  Yet, the world-at-large has accepted this fantasy as a plausible explanation of the life of Christ. 

This leads me back to Paul’s statement in 2:15b-16:  among whom (i.e. the crooked and perverse nation) ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Never underestimate the importance of light in a darkened world.  Permit me to illustrate:  after spending several weeks at sea, the destroyer I served on was attempting to enter the port at Charleston, S.C. at night during a raging storm.  The ocean was treacherous and visibility was near zero.  If it were not for the lighthouse beacon on shore, our only visible navigational point of reference, we wouldn’t have been able to safely plot a course through the channel.  Because this light was there and working our ship and its crew were brought safely home.  In short, this light served its purpose.

Here Paul’s saying in the midst of the prevailing darkness (corruption) of the world’s systems the Philippian Believers were to “shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.”  Paul wanted these saints to walk in the truth so they could effectively share it with a lost and dying world.  The Word of life Paul’s speaking of is the gospel of grace (Ephesians 1:17-23).  It’s a “shining light” in the midst of a troubled sea.  The Grace that saves is the Grace that leads us home: 

Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path (Psalm 119:105).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (2 Timothy 1:8-10).

One of the things we learn from these Bible passages and this teaching is all true Believers are to be out amongst unbelievers.  I’m sure that information shocks a great many.  However, how else will they hear God’s good news if not from those who have taken it to heart, that is, believed?      

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?  and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  (Romans 10:14-15)

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

The ministry of reconciliation refers to the good work (Ephesians 2:8-10) Believers have been called to do and the message they declare which is:  the unsaved can have a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ:  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Reconciliation means when we accept and believe the gospel of grace by faith (alone) God the Father does not count our trespasses against us.  The righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is imputed to all those who believe.  As Believers the message we have been given to share with the lost world is Christ died for all so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  The reason we find the word might placed here in the text is because people must choose Jesus Christ, but they might not.  If you choose Christ, believing He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross for you, then you are reconciled to God.  If you choose to remain in Adam or your natural sinful state then you are not reconciled to God.  Thus, Bible scholars identify the Doctrine of Reconciliation as The Great Exchange.

In Adam I have death.
In Christ I have life.
In Adam I am a sinner with the world.
In Christ I am a son of God apart from the world.
In Adam I have condemnation.
In Christ I have justification and consolation.
In Adam I am in bondage to the world.
In Christ I am set free to live for God.

Let’s go to verse 2:16b.

“…that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

Our Apostle Paul declared “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31).  When did Paul expect to “glory in the Lord?”  The answer is at The Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ.  One day future Paul desired he might “glory in the Lord” because the Believers at Philippi had responded to God’s call to share the gospel no matter the season, i.e. in good times and in bad (1 Corinthians 3:14, 9:18; 2 Corinthians 5:10) with unbelievers.    

The word "rejoice" is Kauchema (kow’-khay-mah), Noun Neuter, Strong’s Greek #2745, and it means: to boast or a ground for boasting; to glory.  Here Paul uses this word to express the idea he may rejoice (to experience joy and gladness in a high degree) in the day of the Christ. 

Don’t overlook the word “may” here.  There’s a chance he may not.  Paul desired more than half-hearted service from these folks, in fact, they should serve others as though they were serving the Lord (Colossians 3:23).  Why?  So they would not suffer loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Paul prayed for these Believers and labored diligently among them.  But if they failed to put into practice what he had taught them he said his ministry at Philippi would be in vain. 

Some people incorrectly teach the day of Christ, as Paul used the term here, to mean the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 19:11-21).  And that’s not what Paul means to say.  Both the Apostle Peter and our Apostle Paul had something to say about “the last days.  However, Peter’s writings are directed to the nation of Israel primarily, while Paul’s epistles concern the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace.  These are two distinct programs of God and they are not to be combined. 

If you’ve studied Paul’s writings, then you understand even though he received the Revelation of the Mystery from the risen Lord, there’s no information as to how long the Church Age will continue.  I’ve heard this present age labeled “God’s Parenthetical Period.  This does not mean it’s an afterthought of God, as though God’s plan and purpose for mankind isn’t working out.   This means the Revelation of the Mystery about the Body of Christ, and other mysteries related to God’s Grace, were kept secret in the mind of God since the foundation of the earth.  It remained a secret until God chose to reveal it to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-3).  

It remains a mystery.  No one knows how long the Dispensation of Grace will last not even Paul and he wrote the majority of the N.T.  God’s Prophetic Program has its “times and seasons” and its “signs.” And if you noticed, in the O.T. the LORD God was very specific about periods of time and associated events, but the Body of Christ has none of that.  When Paul refers to the last days, he writes generally about the deterioration of society’s morals or the conduct of man without the Lord Jesus Christ in their life. 

When you read Paul’s writings, it’s evident he expected the Lord Jesus Christ to return in his lifetime.  Please turn in your Bible to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2: 

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our (here Paul includes himself in the future) gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.  Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

This passage of scripture speaks of “our gathering together to Him” Paul does not say we’ll meet when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth.  Paul had much to say about the Lord’s return, specifically that the Grace Age would end when Jesus Christ comes for the Church, a.k.a. the Body of Christ.  This will occur before the time of God’s wrath:

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the (one) trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall (all) be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

For God hath not appointed us (the Body of Christ) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep (poetic term for those Believers who have died) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

Paul had no idea the Dispensation of Grace would extend 2,000 years out future and we’re still counting.  But he consistently instructed the members of the body from his day onward to wait patiently for the Lord to come and take them to heaven (Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13).   He called the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" the "day of Christ,” referring to the Rapture of God’s Church.  Again, Paul could not have expected the Church Age to last very long because when he wrote about it he included himself saying “we shall not all sleep, and “we shall all be changed…” 

At the Lord’s Second Coming He will come to the earth, literally, on the Mt. of Olives, the very place He left it in glory at His Ascension:

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south (Zechariah 14:4).

Clearly, these are two separate events; one is designated for the church, that is, the Body of Christ and the other pertains primarily to the nation of Israel, in that order. 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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