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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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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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