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"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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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Covenant Gospel and Paul's Gospel of Grace - Part XII


Home Bible Study: Lutz, Florida
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
2 Timothy 2:15

Is there more than one gospel in effect today?

Part XII

“House Work”
Before we ended our last Bible session I took the time to briefly go over the Bema Seat teaching with the class here in Lutz, FL.  I wanted to ensure that that we were all on the same page.  
The Great White Throne Judgment and the Bema Seat, is definitely not the same thing. 
Bema is simply the Greek word for “judgment seat.”   The word originated from the Olympic Games – it means: the seat of the judges.  Therefore, it needs to be read in that context.

Jesus said,

Revelation 22
12: Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man (I prefer, “every Believer” – it does no harm to the text) according to what he (or she) has done.


With that in mind, consider also the words of the Apostle Paul, knowing full well that he speaks for Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2
10: For we (Believers) are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for (what exactly) good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

There will be NO Believers at the Great White Throne Judgment.  But after the Rapture each and every Believer will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give an account for what he or she has done with their God-given talents (or abilities) while they were in the Body of Christ.  This is the Bema Seat teaching.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, the Apostle Paul drew courage and was motivated by the fact of rewards at the return of the Lord for the Church Age Saints, which he mentions in every chapter in this epistle and becomes the primary subject of 2 Thessalonians. 

The Lord’s return and what this means not only to the world but to us individually is a prominent subject of the New Testament.  Believers need to be aware of this doctrine.
While salvation is a gift, there are rewards given for faithfulness in the Christian life and consequently loss of rewards for unfaithfulness.  

The Lord Jesus Christ will “judge” (a poor choice of words by the Bible translators- I prefer evaluate) each act and the motive behind the activity to determine its reward.  

Those actions performed with the proper motives most likely will be approved by the Lord and deemed worthy of reward.  However, selfish activity will not pass the muster no matter how much time, effort, or money is put forth in the endeavor.  

In other words, the activity or “work” being accomplished must be for the betterment of the Body of Christ or for the building up of the Body of Christ and not the individual performing the work.  

If this activity you’re considering is more about advancing you or your agenda, and not for the good of another then STOP!  

Example:  my mother is a Prayer Warrior.  As far back as I can remember, my mother has spent many a day and night on her knees praying for our family and others. 

She continues to this day at the age of 88, and still counting.  She is no longer able to pray on her knees, but prayer in any position still works.  God considers the heart…

There are many other prayer warriors.  They choose to “work” silently, often in the dark, seldom seen, rarely acknowledged and without fanfare.  But they SHOW UP each day FAITHFULLY, praying for the needs of the saints, and often for folks they’ve never met.   

All they know is there is a need.  That’s all they need to know.  And the Lord hears these prayers.  

Let’s say you take the time to attend a Bible study.  You’re a normal person. 
At least some of you are.  You lead a busy life; and yet you set aside a certain amount a time each week or each month for the purpose of studying your Bible. 

There are many reasons why Believers should be in a Bible study.   Getting to know your Lord and Savior is a good place to begin.  But I bet many of you didn’t know that as a Believer you are to share your faith and your salvation experience with others.

2 Timothy 3
5: But you (insert your name here), be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an (what’s the next word folks) evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

There are those who teach that the letters of Timothy are “pastoral” letters, meaning they were strictly written for the sole purpose of “instructing” or “guiding” those individuals who are led to “pastor” a large congregation.   I disagree.

The word “pastors” (note the plurality) appears only once in Scripture.
The Greek word translated “pastors” is poimen.  It means shepherds.

Therefore, this is a metaphor to describe a particular function in a church. 
It is not an office or a title. 

Instead, the role of these pastors is to nurture and to care for the Lord’s followers. 

Remember in the 1st century Believers met in the homes of other like-minded Believers.  These groups of people were small because homes were small and could not accommodate more than a dozen or so people. 

But the “pastors’” role was quite simple.  Paul said,

2 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.

The primary role of the pastors is this:

Teach the Word of Truth accurately, rightly dividing it.

Over the years the role of the pastors has morphed into something I don’t believe the Lord ever intended it to be.  For even Jesus said,

John 21
16: He (Jesus) said to him (Peter) again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.”

Or as the KJV translation says, “Feed My sheep.” 

Not everyone is born to be a Billy Graham or a William R. Newell.

But believe me no matter who you are, no matter where the Lord has placed you on this planet, you have a ministry.  Your ministry is in the home, the workplace, and during your leisure activities.  So you need to be prepared.

Who doesn’t know someone who needs to know Jesus Christ?
Perhaps this person is a family member, a good friend, or an acquaintance.

Is there someone you work with asking questions about faith related issues? 
Faith-based questions don’t always come from the unchurched. 

Often times these questions will come from your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  Perhaps they are struggling with an issue you have some experience with and you are stronger for it.

If someone approached you today, and asked you why you are so “comfortable” with your beliefs, what would you tell them?

Bible study plays a role in every Believers life.

Wood, hay, stubble, silver, gold, or precious jewels…
How will your activities in the Body of Christ be viewed by the Lord?

*****

Let’s get back to our subject material and the Apostle Paul.

Paul has been absent for three years (37-41AD).  He returned to Jerusalem to speak to the disciples there but they were “afraid” of him.  Paul’s reputation as a persecutor of those who believed that Jesus is the Son of God remains a stumbling block for him. 

So Paul preached his gospel message to the Hellenistic Jews and they were not receptive to it.  In fact, they planned to take his life.  (Acts 9:29)

The disciples learned of this attempt on Paul’s life, and rescued him.  They brought him down to Caesarea and then later sent him over to Tarsus. 

This is getting to be a familiar story with our friend Paul isn’t it.  Let me take you back to something Jesus said to Ananias right after the Lord commanded him to go to the house of Judas to lay his hands on Saul so that he could regain his sight.

Jesus said,

Acts 9

16: for I will show him (Saul) how much he must suffer for My name sake.”

Paul will suffer for the cause of Christ, like no other apostle, but we’re not there yet.
Saul in Arabia

There are two great revelators, or unfolders of Divine Truth in the Bible—Moses in the Old Testament, and Paul in the New.  William R. Newell

So, Paul “disappeared” into Arabia for 3 years.  I say disappeared because there is no record of his travels or his deeds while he was there.

Is there anything in Scripture that might help us to understand Paul’s absence?

Yes.

When God chose to save the man Saul, and then selected him to be His Apostle to the Gentiles, this marked both a turning point in Scripture, and a dispensational change in God’s Prophetic Program, which had been in effect since the year 2000 BC. 

Saul was saved and selected for service in the year 37 AD.

As I said before, there are “patterns” in Scripture that may help us understand Paul’s missing 3 years.  Let’s investigate a few of these to see if the pattern theory fits.

We’ll begin with this. 
Down through the ages, before anyone began his or her ministry, they set aside a time of prayer and fasting beforehand.  Scripture supports this truth.

Jesus

Immediately after being baptized by his cousin John the Baptist, Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.  Jesus ate nothing during that time, and at the end of that time he was hungry.

Luke 4

1: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness

2: for forty days, being tempted by the devil.  And he ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry.


Moses

Moses born a Hebrew, saved from death at birth, and then rescued from the Nile River, was raised in the royal palace as a prince of Egypt.  But God could not use him there.

When it came time for him to identify with his Hebrew brothers and sisters he acted impulsively and was exiled.   God sent him into the wilderness of Midian.  For forty years Moses lived as a shepherd.  The Egyptians despised shepherds.  Now the nation of Israel happened to be a nation of shepherds so this was an important feature in God’s plan. 

King David was a shepherd boy…too.

God used this time in the wilderness to prepare Moses for his main mission in life.
Moses would deliver God’s people from bondage in Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land.

Acts 7

29: “At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.

30: “After forty years had passed, AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF (where) MOUNT SINAI, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH.

Please note:  Moses and the angel met on Mt. Sinai.

Paul

Galatians 1

15: But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased

16: to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the (whom) Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,

17: nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.

18: Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him for fifteen days.

Before Paul’s conversion in 37 AD, he had been a persecutor of anyone who believed that Jesus is the Son of God.  Then Jesus graciously reached down and saved him.

Just like his counterpart, Moses, Paul had many talents and abilities, which God could use.  But Paul was not yet ready to serve.  God needed to prepare him for the work and the sacrifices that lie ahead.  …Before we get to that.

I need to mention that there are two numbers here in our Bible lessons that re-occur often in Scripture.  These numbers have a spiritual connotation: 3 and 40

#3 = three stands for that which is solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire.

All things that are especially complete are stamped with this number three.

# 40 = this number appears frequently in Scripture and has been universally recognized for its importance in relation to a time of trial, testing, or probation. 

The number 40 is the product of (5) and (8), and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).

·         Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit for (40) days prior to beginning His ministry.

·         Moses spent (40) years as a shepherd in the desert of Midian before returning to Egypt.

·         Paul spent (3) years in the Arabian wilderness.

This is a good place to halt for now.  When we return we’ll continue to look for “patterns” or similarities between Moses and Paul. 

We know both of these men into the wilderness of Arabia.
Now whether or not these gentlemen were “Spirit” led Scripture does not say.

As far as Moses is concerned, I would say NOT.  Remember Moses struck down and killed an Egyptian who was beating on a Hebrew slave.  I don’t believe this act is condoned by the Holy Spirit.  Of course, this is my opinion.

(To be continued)

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