Comments on 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4:13-18

"But we do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are fallen asleep, to the end that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. For this we say to you in the Word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate these who have fallen asleep; for the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with an assembling shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

 

These words contain one of the great revelations of the Bible and require therefore closer attention. It is a special and unique revelation which he gives to the sorrowing Thessalonians, occasioned by the mistake they had made when some of their fellow believers had died, and they feared that these departed ones had lost their share in the coming glorious meeting between the Lord and His saints. They sorrowed on their account like those who have no hope. (Their pagan neighbors had no hope of meeting loved ones again after death. Classic Greek and Roman writers abound with dreary expressions of the hopelessness of death.) We must remember that the New Testament was not yet in existence; only one of the gospels, was written; and not one of the epistles. And so the Lord gave to the apostle the special revelation which would quiet their fears and put before them the details of the coming of the Lord for all His saints, those who had fallen asleep and those alive when He comes.

Our Lord spoke that blessed word to His eleven disciples, "I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am ye may be also" (John 14:3). It is the only time He mentioned His coming for His own, and in speaking of it He did not tell them of signs to precede that coming, such as wars, false Christs and the great tribulation. It was the simple announcement that He would come again and receive those who are His to Himself. He did not say a word about the manner of that coming and how He would receive His own into glory to be with Him. Nor did the Thessalonians hear definite teaching on this from the lips of Paul. They knew He would come again; they waited for Him. But as to the manner of His coming and concerning those who had already fallen asleep and their relation to that event they were in ignorance. Beautiful it is to see how graciously the Lord answered the question of these sorrowing ones and how much more He adds for the comfort of all His people.

The first statement is in verse 14. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus." Let us first notice that blessed statement that "Jesus died." Of the saints it is said that they have fallen asleep; but never is it said that Jesus slept. He tasted death, the death in all its unfathomable meaning as the judgment upon sin. For the saints the physical death is but sleep. (Some have perverted the meaning of "sleep," and, instead of applying it, as Scripture does, to the body, they apply it to the soul. Soul-sleep is nowhere taught in the Bible and is therefore an invention by those who handle the Word deceitfully.) And He who died also rose again; as certainly as He died and rose again, so surely shall all believers rise. God will bring all those who have fallen asleep through Jesus with Him, that is with the Lord when He comes in the day of His glorious manifestation. It does not mean the receiving of them by the Lord, nor does it mean that He brings their disembodied spirits with Him to be united to their bodies from the graves, but it means that those who have fallen asleep will God bring with His Son when He comes with all His saints; they will all be in that glorified company. When the Lord comes back from glory all the departed saints will be with Him. This is what the Thessalonians needed to know first of all. Before we follow this blessed revelation in its unfolding we call attention to the phrase "fallen asleep through (not in) Jesus"; it may also be rendered by "those who were put to sleep by Jesus." His saints in life and death are in His hands. When saints put their bodies aside, it is because their Lord has willed it so. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Ps. 116:15). When our loved ones leave us, may we think of their departure as being "put to sleep by Jesus."

But blessed as this answer to their question is, it produced another difficulty. Hearing that the saints who had fallen asleep would come with the Lord on the day of His glorious manifestation, they would ask, "How is it possible that they can come with Him?" Are they coming as disembodied spirits? What about their bodies in the graves? How shall they come with Him? To answer these questions the special revelation "by the Word of the Lord" is given, by which they learned, and we also, how they would all be with Him so as to come with Him at His appearing. "For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain unto the coming of the Lord, are in no wise to anticipate those who have fallen asleep." He tells them that when the Lord comes for His saints, those who have fallen asleep will not have an inferior place and that, we, the living, who remain to the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. When Paul wrote these words and said, "We, the living, who remain," he certainly considered himself as included in that class. The two companies who will meet the Lord when He comes, those who have fallen asleep and those who are living, are mentioned here for the first time. How the living saints will not precede those who have departed and the order in which the coming of the Lord for His saints will be executed is next made known in this wonderful revelation.

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with an assembling shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then, we, the living, who remain, shall be caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." This is an altogether new revelation. Nothing like it is found anywhere in the Old Testament Scriptures. In writing later to the Corinthians Paul mentioned it again. "Behold I show 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 trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven. He is now at the right hand of God in glory, crowned with honor and glory. There He exercises His Priesthood and Advocacy in behalf of His people, by which He keeps, sustains and restores them. When the last member has been added to the Church, which is His body, and that body is to be with Him, who is the head, He will leave the place at the right hand and descend from heaven. He will not descend to the earth, for, as we read later, the meeting place for Him and His saints is in the air and not the earth. When He comes with His saints in His visible manifestation, He will descend to the earth. He descends with a shout. It denotes His supreme authority. The Greek word is "keleusma," which means literally "a shout of command," used in classical Greek for the hero's shout to his followers in battle, the commanding voice to gather together. He ascended with a shout (Ps. 47:5), and with the victor's shout He returns.

The shout may be the single word "Come!" "Come and see" He spoke to the disciples who followed Him and inquired for His dwelling place. Before Lazarus' tomb He spoke with a loud voice, "Come forth." John, in the isle of Patmos, after the throne messages to the churches had been given, saw a door opened in heaven and the voice said "Come up hither" (Rev. 4:1). "Come" is the royal word of grace, and grace will do its supreme work when He comes for His own. But there will also be the voice of the archangel (Michael) and the trump of God. The archangel is the leader of the angelic hosts. As He was seen of angels (1 Tim. 3:16) when He ascended into the highest heaven, so will the archangel be connected with His descent out of heaven. All heaven will be in commotion when the heirs of glory, sinners saved by grace, are about to be brought with glorified bodies into the Father's house. Some teach that the voice of the archangel may be employed to summon the heavenly hosts and marshal the innumerable company of the redeemed, for "They shall gather His elect together from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:30-30. (Prof. W.G. Moorehead, Outline Studies.) But this is incorrect. The elect in Matthew 24 are not the Church, but Israel. Dispersed Israel will be regathered and angels will be used in this work. Furthermore the angels will do this gathering after the great tribulation and after the visible manifestation of the Lord with His saints. The coming of the Lord for His saints takes place before the great tribulation.

The trump of God is also mentioned. This trumpet has nothing to do with the judgment trumpets of Revelation, nor with the Jewish feasts of trumpets. It is a symbolical term and like the shout stands for the gathering together. In Numbers 10:4 we read, "And if they blow with one trumpet, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee." The shout and the trump of God will gather the fellow-heirs of Christ. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." This is the resurrection from among all the dead of those who believed on Christ, the righteous dead. All saints of all ages, old and New Testament saints, are included. This statement of the resurrection of the dead in Christ first disposes completely of the unscriptural view of a general resurrection. As we know from Rev. 20:5 the rest of the dead (the wicked dead) will be raised up later. He comes in person to open the graves of all who belong to Him and manifests His authority over death which He has conquered.

The dead in Christ will hear the shout first and experience His quickening power; they shall be raised incorruptible. What power will then be manifested! "Then we, the living, who remain, shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord." All believers who live on earth when the Lord comes will hear that commanding, gathering shout. It does not include those who only profess to be Christians and are nominal church-members, nor are any excluded who really are the Lord's. (The so-called first-fruit rapture, which teaches that only the most spiritual of all true believers, who have made a deeper experience, etc., will be caught up, and the other believers, though they are true believers of God, will be left behind to pass "through the great tribulation," has no spiritual foundation and is wrong.) The question, "Who will be caught up into glory?" is answered in 1 Cor. 15:23 -- "All who are Christ's." The change will be "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52). Then this mortal will put on immortality. It will be the blessed "clothed upon" of which the apostle wrote to the Corinthians: "For in this tabernacle we groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed (death) but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life" (2 Cor. 5:4). Then our body of humiliation will be fashioned like unto His own glorious body. it is the blessed, glorious hope, not death and the grave, but the coming of the Lord, when we shall be changed. And it is our imminent hope; believers must wait daily for it and some blessed day the shout will surely come.

When He descends from heaven with the shout and the dead in Christ are raised and we are changed, then "we shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air." It will be the blessed time of reunion with the loved ones who have gone before. What joy and comfort it must have brought to the sorrowing Thessalonians when they read these blessed words for the first time! And they are still the words of comfort and hope to all His people, when they stand at the open graves of loved ones who fell asleep as believers.

Often the question is asked, "Shall we not alone meet our loved ones but also recognize them?" Here is the answer: "Together with them" implies both reunion and recognition. These words would indeed mean nothing did they not mean recognition. We shall surely see the faces of our loved ones again and all the saints of God on that blessed day when this great event takes place. The clouds will be heaven's chariots to take the heirs of God and the joint-heirs of the Lord Jesus Christ into His own presence. As He ascended so His redeemed ones will be taken up. Caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; all laws Of gravitation are set aside, for it is the power of God, the same power which raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead and seated Him in glory, which will be displayed in behalf of His saints (Eph. 1:19-23). Surely this is a divine revelation.

"How foolish it must sound to our learned scientists. But, beloved, I would want nothing but that one sentence, 'caught up in clouds . to meet the Lord in the air,' to prove the divinity of Christianity. Its very boldness is assurance of its truth. No speculation, no argument, no reasoning; but a bare authoritative statement startling in its boldness. Not a syllable of Scripture on which to build, and yet when spoken, in perfect harmony with all Scripture. How absolutely impossible for any man to have conceived that the Lord's saints should be caught up to meet Him in the air. Were it not true its very boldness and apparent foolishness would be its refutation. And what would be the character of mind that could invent such a thought? What depths of wickedness! What cruelty! What callousness! The spring from which such a statement, if false, could rise must be corrupt indeed. But how different in fact! What severe righteousness! What depths of holiness! What elevated morality! What warmth of tender affection! What clear reasoning! Every word that he has written testifies that he has not attempted to deceive. Paul was no deceiver, and it is equally impossible for him to have been deceived" ("Our Hope," February 1902).

And the blessedness "to meet the Lord in the air"! We shall see Him then as He is and gaze for the first time upon the face of the Beloved, that face of glory, which was once marred and smitten on account of our sins. And seeing Him as He is we shall be like Him. How long will be the meeting in the air? It has been said that the stay in that meeting place will be but momentary and that the Lord will at once resume His descent to the earth. We know from other Scriptures that this cannot be. Between the coming of the Lord for His saints and with His saints there is an interval of at least seven years before the visible coming of the Lord and His saints with Him. The judgment of the saints, by which their works and labors become manifest must take place. There is also to be the presentation of the church in glory (Ephes. 5:27; Jude 24). Furthermore the marriage of the Lamb takes place not in the meeting place in the air, but in heaven (Rev. 19:1-10). He will take His saints into the Father's house that they may behold His glory (John 17:22). But what will it mean, "So shall we be forever with the Lord!"

"In this part of the passage, where he explains the details of our ascension to the Lord in the air, nothing is said of His coming down to the earth; it is our going up (as He went up) to be with Him. Neither, as far as concerns us, does the apostle go farther than our gathering together to be for ever with Him. Nothing is said either of judgment or of manifestation; but only the fact of our heavenly association with Him in that we leave the earth precisely as He left it. This is very precious. There is this difference: He went up in His own full right, He ascended; as to us, His voice calls the dead, and they come forth from the grave, and, the living being changed, all are caught up together. It is a solemn act of God's power, which seals the Christians' life and work of God, and brings the former into the glory of Christ as His heavenly companions. Glorious privilege! Precious grace! To lose sight of it destroys the proper character of our joy and of our hope" (Synopsis of the Bible).

Arno C Gaebelein The First Epistle to the Thessalonians; Chapter 4
Updated: 23 Apr 2017

 

He was a Righteous Man

Jesus Christ gave up his own life for the sin of the people (Hebrews 9:28). Nature understood what happened and there was darkness over the whole earth. He dies alone on the hill, separated from his Father, and yet places his entire trust in Him - committing his spirit to the Father's care.

F.B. Meyer offers the following observation on Luke 23: 44-49: Rulers, soldiers, and malefactors all heaped their insults on the dying Lord, little realizing that they were all included in the great love which was pouring itself out as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. It may be that we shall have to share the same opprobrium, if we drink of His cup and are baptized with His baptism. But God will do for us as He did for Jesus; He will not leave our soul in the grave nor suffer His own to see corruption, Psalm 16:10.
The signs of renewal, wrought in the heart of the penitent thief, showed the sure work of the Holy Spirit. These were the fear of God, the sense of justice in His suffering, the confession of evil deeds, the recognition of our Lord’s sinlessness and dignity, and the anticipation of His coming Kingdom. We may begin a day under the dull skies of earth and close it where there is no need of sun or moon. For the rent veil, see Hebrews 10:20.
Dying saints have often passed home with our Lord’s last words on their lips, Psalm 31:5; Acts 7:59.

Even the gentile centurion could see the injustice and the wrongful suffering of our Lord. Christ was clear of any charges laid against him, yet he suffers for our sin. Yet this observation is in sharp contrast to the many, who came to insult a dying man. Some did not, and with a conscious of guilt, and perhaps fearing some divine punishment, beat their chests in confusion and dread. At least they returned to their homes to ponder all that had happened. 

 

David L Simon
Updated: 14 Apr 2017

 

Is there a Hell?

A Biblical Perspective

Short Answer

Take note God has two sides – one mercy, the other justice. The two go hand in hand; one cannot have one without the other. A just God exercises justice, impartially and fairly, a merciful God offers grace. One cannot have mercy without justice; they are mutual.

Grace provides salvation to all who are judged; and all have been judged. The Bible is adamant that sin must be dealt with by death; “the wages of sin is death”. God provided a substitute person to bear the punishment for our sin who is the Lord Jesus Christ. This Jesus was crucified for our sin, dying instead of you. Believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God will save you.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18

A just God exercises justice – those that reject the Son of God reject God. Those that reject God are punished by being placed into hell. Thus hell is a real place; and at the end of your life you will either be send to hell (only believing in the Lord Jesus Christ will save you) or you will go to heaven, to be with God.

Yes there is a hell!

Yes there is a hell. Quoting George Macleod “If hell is not proven, I deny the truth of God in toto; and therefore I am finished, and thus I am prepared to impeach the prophets, and apostles as liars, and Jesus Christ as the biggest impostor that ever trod God’s earth!” This I cannot do! Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is proven; the prophets and apostles are proven true to their word and thus Hell is proven, being a real place for real people.

The soul of every person – that includes yours – will be judged by the just and righteous God. If found wanting which means having any guilt of sin in you, the soul will be cast into hell – this is the final death or true death. This death will separate you for ever from God and every other human for that matter. Initially an unsaved soul is placed in Sheol also called Hades (in Greek) and from there you will be judged and after which cast into hell. You cannot be found wanting if your sins have been paid for – this only the Lord Jesus Christ can do, as it requires one who is perfect to do so.

What is Hell?

The Hebrews took the idea of Hell from the awful place called the Hinnom Valley (in Greek called Gehenna), a deep gorge towards the south of Jerusalem. Into this valley the waste and sewage was placed, which was constantly on fire, smouldering and emitting putrid smoke. The stench and smoke was simply too awful to describe. Vultures and other birds foraged amongst the muck and filth. The place was considered cursed (Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6) due the sacrificing of children by fire in the valley, and along with the later use as a sewage and waste depot the Hinnom Valley provided a grim picture of hell.

Yes there is a place called hell (also called the accursed place). It was prepared for Satan and his angels who attempted to usurp God (Matthew 25:41). Jesus described it as a fiery furnace (Matthew 13:50) and John saw a vision of hell as a lake of fire and brimstone (burning sulphurous substances). The devil (called Satan) because he deceived Adam and Eve (and millions of others) will be tormented for ever in hell.

The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10

People were call upon to believe God, but when they refused, God in his righteousness declared hell would also be used for those that reject Him. Those who are currently in Hades and those in the future that reject God and not believe in Him will also be cast into hell.

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:7-8

The Universalists cannot have this, but they lie. One cannot reject God, and have Him accept the rejecter; the two are mutually exclusive. Those that accept God will enter into His presence in Heaven, those that reject God will be cast into Hell.

You say a just loving God will not do so. You are wrong because your logic is wrong. Love must be exercised with justice - reject God and you cannot love Him. A loving God must therefore exercise justice – the rejecter must be rejected. What God is, is patient. He longs for your acceptance of Him. You have had all your life to date to change your mind (which is what ‘repent’ means) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. God always gives adequate time – because God is both merciful and just.  He has extended His hand of mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ – accept him or be thrown into hell! Reject God and He must, being a just and holy God, reject you. The sexual immoral, the liar, the thief, the hypocrite, backbiter or blasphemer can all be saved if they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; else they will be judged and be cast into hell.

If there is no hell there is no heaven!

If there be no hell there is no heaven. If no heaven we are mere robots; clumps of chemicals that undergo various reactions then fade away at death. If this were true, it would make this conversation pointless – illogical. Clumps of chemicals cannot ask questions! Indeed it is illogical that clumps of chemicals have any semblance of cognitive discernment. The Bible says if this was true, we would be men and women ‘most miserable’ (1 Corinthians 15:19). But people are much more than mere clumps of chemicals – we have a spirit and soul, giving as a conscience, allowing us all to reason; ask questions and seek answers; set out logical arguments and prove or disprove them. It causes us to experience guilt when we do wrong. Furthermore, the spirit allows people to have an intimate relationship with God. Bags of chemicals such as dogs, have no spirit or soul, and therefore cannot do any of these things. Humans have souls and that soul is the very you. On death your soul either passes to heaven or to Hades, where upon judgement by God, is cast into Hell as punishment.

And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:30-31

 

David L Simon (13 March 2017)
Questions\Is there a Hell?


Updated: 13 Mar 2017

 

Peace of God

My Dear -,
You complain that you have not "settled peace," and that thus you are making but little progress with the truth, or in the knowledge of the Lord. The complaint, I am sorry to know, is by no means uncommon; but it springs from an imperfect knowledge of the gospel, and from confounding two different things. I hope therefore, with the Lord's blessing, to be able to help you, if you will carefully consider what I am about to write.

Your case reminds me exactly of another that recently came before me. "Have you peace with God?" I inquired. The answer returned was, "Not always." In both cases the confusion is between the peace made, and the enjoyment of the peace. That is, when you are happy in the Lord you say, "Now I have peace"; but when from failure or trial you are depressed and gloomy, you think that your peace is gone. To meet this state of mind, I shall ask you to consider attentively, what are the foundations of peace with God. It is an immense gain to the soul when it is clearly perceived that these lie not within, but without; for then it will also be seen that our experiences have nothing whatever to do with the question. Turn then with me to Romans 5:1. There we read, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"; and if we examine the connection of this scripture, we shall at once learn the source of the peace of which it speaks. The connection is this. After the apostle has explained the way in which Abraham was justified before God, he proceeds: "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God" (Rom. 4:23-25; Rom. 5:1).

It is very clear from this scripture that the sole foundation of peace with God lies in the work of Christ. In fact, the foundation having thus been laid, God declares that everyone who believes His testimony concerning it, believes that He in grace has come in, and made full provision for the sinner's salvation, believes thus in God, is justified, and being justified has — enters upon the possession of — the peace which has been made by the death of Christ. But it will be observed that it is said that Christ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Rom. 4:25). That is, the resurrection of Christ is the abiding proof of the completion of His work, the evidence that the sins for which He died, and under which He went down into death, are gone for ever — the witness therefore that every claim that God had upon us has been fully met and satisfied. For if He was delivered for our offences, and He has left the grave, been raised out of death, the "offences" under which He went down into death must be gone, or He would still be a prisoner in the tomb. Hence the resurrection of Christ is the distinct and emphatic expression of God's satisfaction with the atonement which was made on the cross.

It is thus abundantly evident, as before said, that the alone foundation of peace with God lies in the death of Christ. This is repeated again and again in Scripture. Thus we are said to be "justified by His blood" (Rom. 5:9); and again, "having made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20). It is therefore Christ who makes peace with God, and He has made it by His sacrificial death — the death that vindicated every claim God had upon the sinner, met every one of His righteous requirements from man, glorified Him in every attribute of His character; so that God now can beseech the sinner to be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:20).

Having explained this much, it follows that the one important question for the soul is, Do I believe God's testimony concerning His Son, and concerning the work He has accomplished? If there is any difficulty in answering this question, then no further progress can at present be made. A very simple test, however, will help to elicit the truth. On what do you rest for acceptance before God? Is it on yourself, your own doings, or your own merits or deservings? If so, you cannot be resting on the work of Christ. But if you own that by nature you are hopelessly undone and lost, and confess that you have no hope apart from Christ and what He has done, then you can humbly say, "By the grace of God I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Supposing now that you can adopt this language, then I can tell you that you have "settled" peace with God, that nothing can ever deprive you of it — no change, no variety of experience; for it is your immutable, inalienable possession. The Scripture says, "Therefore being justified by faith" (and you say you do believe), "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Every believer — and the moment he believes — is justified, acquitted of all charge of guilt, and made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21); and being justified, he has peace — not peace in himself, be it observed, but peace through our Lord Jesus Christ; that is, the peace which now belongs to him is the peace with God which Christ has made by His atoning sacrifice. And since it is the peace which He has made, being thus outside of ourselves, it can never be altered, and can never fluctuate; it is as stable and as durable as the throne of God; for, as we have seen, it is a peace which Christ has made through the cross; and what He has thus done can never be undone, and therefore it is an everlasting peace. And this abiding, settled, everlasting peace is the portion of every believer.

What you mean, then, when you complain that you have not settled peace, is simply that you do not enjoy settled peace, that your experience fluctuates. It may be, therefore, as well to inquire how the believer is to enjoy constant peace in his soul. The answer is very simple. It is by faith. If I believe God's testimony that peace is mine on faith in the Lord Jesus, I shall enter immediately on its enjoyment. This may be simplified by an illustration.

Suppose that news is brought to you that by the will of a deceased relative you have become the owner of a large estate. The effect on your mind will depend entirely upon the fact whether or not you believe what you have heard. If you doubt the truth of the news, there will be no answering response to it; but if, on the other hand, it is duly attested, and you implicitly receive it, you will at once say, "The property is mine." So is it also in regard to peace with God. If you believe God's testimony that peace has been made by the blood of Christ, no depression of feeling, no conviction of unworthiness, no circumstances whatever, will be able to disturb your security upon this point, because you will see that it depends entirely upon what another has done. What is thus needed for the enjoyment of. settled peace is unwavering repose upon the word of God.

The cause of so much uncertainty on this subject springs mainly from looking within instead of looking without to Christ — looking within to discover something that will give confidence that there is a real work of grace begun in the soul, instead of looking without to perceive that the only foundation on which a soul can rest before God is the precious blood of Christ. The consequence is that, perceiving the corruption, the evil of the flesh, the soul begins to doubt whether after all it has not been deceived. Satan thus entangling the soul, plies it with doubts and fears, in the hope of producing distrust of God, if not utter despair. The effectual means of foiling his assaults in this direction is to appeal to the written word. In answer to all his evil suggestions we should reply, as our blessed Lord did when He was tempted, "It is written," and then we should soon find that nothing could disturb our enjoyment of that peace with God which has been made by the precious blood of Christ, and which became ours as soon as we believed.

This foundation question settled, now freed from self-occupation, you will have leisure of mind and soul for meditation upon the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. "As a new-born babe, you will desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2) ; and, moreover, if you study the word in the presence of the Lord, you will be guided by it into ever closer intimacy of communion with Himself, and as you trace out His infinite perfections and glories that are unfolded to us and apprehended by the Spirit of God, your affections will be drawn forth in ever increasing fervency, and your heart, now satisfied, will overflow in adoration at His feet, and thus your complaint will be changed into a song of praise.

Believe me, dear -,
Yours affectionately in Christ, E. D.

Edward Dennett (1831-1914) Twelve Letters to Young Believers
Updated: 19 Feb 2017

 

The Seven Dispensations of God's Governance

Importance

One cannot possibly understand the Bible without having an understanding of the Dispensations of God. The apostasy of the modern church in part comes from failure to understand the governance of God in the current economy leading to an ineffective (and dangerous) gospel which does not lead to salvation, along with misleading Christians in relation to the doctrine of end times (eschatology). It is vitally important to always place every verse of the Bible in its appropriate context to enable an exegesis that renders the passages as the author intended. As stated above, the gospel has been perverted so much it has become words of no-effect because men do under understand the Age of Grace, in which we are in!

Definition

A dispensation is a period of time during which God administers the affairs of His realm in a particular manner. Therefore, the definition incorporates both time and method so that during each period of time (hundreds and sometimes thousands of years) God administers the world in a particular way, and different from the previous. Thus God's will is implemented in specific and unique ways during history in order to fulfil His good purpose.

There are seven dispensations from the time of Adam until the second coming of the Messiah who reigns during the Millennium Kingdom. These are given various names although the periods are all the same. A very brief summary of each is provided below.

1. The Dispensation of Innocence – Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:28 – 3:8).

Man's responsibility was to obey God and not eat of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

Man was tested by this command, which he failed for which he was judged and cast out of the garden. He could therefore not eat of the tree of life nor any more of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Thus this dispensation ceased when Adam sinned.

2. The Age of Conscience or the Age of Self-Determination - From Eden to Noah's Flood (Genesis 3:9 – 8:14)

Man's responsibly was to obey God set out in the Adamic Covenant (Genesis 3) which mainly had to deal with physical death – the toil to produce fruit and subjection of women to their husbands. Part of the obedience was to believe God would send the Messiah to redeem them from the prince of this world, Satan who had lied to them.

Man was tested by his conscience due to knowledge (gained when Adam took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil). If he failed he was to provide a suitable sacrifice to God – here we see Abel succeeded and Cain failed (Hebrew 11:4). God ceased the dispensation due to the immense evil found upon the earth, vowing to kill all people, except one family - Noah.

3. The Dispensation of Civil Government - From the Flood to the Tower of Babel (Genesis 8:15 - 11:32)

Man's responsibly was to obey God set out in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9) which mainly concerned replenishing and filling the earth after the flood. The Covenant provided for the consumption of meat (up to this time only vegetable were consumed), and the establishment of civil governments. The rainbow is the sign of the Noahic Covenant.

Man failed this covenant by using the building of the Tower of Babel as its power to prevent people from moving out and populating the earth. Furthermore, empires were built under one man (Nimrod) rather than separated kingdoms as God has ordained.

4. The Dispensation of Promise or Patriarchal Rule - From Abram to the Exodus (Genesis 12:1 – Exodus 18:27)

Man's responsibility was to obey God set in the Abrahamic Covenant, and although it started well with Abraham leaving his native country and setting out for Canaan.

Man's failure appear to be their desire not to take procession of the Land of Canaan God had promised them. Indeed during this period, the various patriarchs left the land including Abraham who went down to Egypt, and thus the tribe of Israel ended in Egypt, enslaved.

5. The Dispensation of Law - From the Exodus to Christ (Exodus 19:1 – Acts 1:26)

Man's responsibility was to obey God set out in the Mosaic Law. This lengthy dispensation covers the Old Testament period of the children of Israel, from the Exodus until their consent to the death of their Messiah.

Man failed to keep the law, replaced God with idols, and latter created their own form of the law (pharisaic law) and rejecting their own Messiah, who came to save them.

6. The Dispensation of Grace (The Church Age) - from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ (Acts 2:1 – Revelation 19:21)

Man's responsibility is (note the tense) to obey God set out in the New Covenant. This is to accept the gift (Romans 5:15) of the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ the Messiah – which is grace, obtained through faith in Yeshua (Jesus Christ) the Messiah.

Man fails in this dispensation by rejecting the gift of salvation (the gospel) which leads to death, along with failure to teach the New Covenant truths, leads to an ineffective and apostate Church. Only few will be saved from this dispensation.

7. The Dispensation of the Kingdom or Millennium - from the Second Coming of Christ to the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 20:1-10)

Man's responsibility will be to obey God as set out in the New Covenant (salvation will be through faith) plus the ordinances of the Millennial Kingdom.

Men will fail to accept the Messiah and they will be caste into Hell with Satan at the end of the period.

David L Simon (4 Feb 2017)
\Doctrine\The seven dispensations of God's governance

David L Simon
Updated: 05 Feb 2017

 

Some thoughts on Preaching - it should only be from the Bible

Main Idea

Sermons should be:

  • About extracting truth from the Bible in order that it can be applied to people’s lives
  • Exegetical or expository preaching; where bible truth is presented accurately
  • About God, so people may know God
  • About the doctrine of God, for doctrine provides the truth of God, his Son, the Gospel and indeed, reality.

Preaching is not about

Experience; anyone can provide an experience, and the Devil can provide a well disguised even clever experience that mocks God, misleads Christians and prevents people receiving the gospel, being utterly false. Church apostasy arises because truth is substituted for experience.

Passion: The Prophets of Baal were extremely passionate – injuring themselves in their passion, yet failed. Elijah, in faith merely prays to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and fire comes and consumes the entire alter and offering (1 Kings 18).

Behaviour, but about belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. To be sure, our behaviour will be modified by truth (Love you neighbours as our self), but the truth that sets the framework for behaviour is from Scripture. Behaviour is determined by believe; believe in evolution and one will allow abortion or sexual intercourse with anyone etc. Preaching must be about knowledge of God not activity.

Activity, but knowledge and action. Busy churches are not necessarily, or even, holy yet alone pleasing to God. Business never equates to holiness.

"Jesus" but the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Yeshua the Messiah, and no other, the one who says;

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

Devotion, although useful, is not preaching. For devotion to occur one needs to know which Jesus one is speaking about – the Jesus of the Mormon, or New Age, or the Son of God. Devotion to God only comes from knowledge of God, thus requires the preaching of the Word of God.

Preaching is About the Study of the Bible

The only way to be set free is to know and practice the truth of the Bible. Liberation only comes from knowing divine truth, which is only found in the Bible.

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Paul states that we must daily renew our minds:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Bible study is the first thing we should be doing!

But He answered and said, "It is written, 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Matthew 4:4

All revivals in the Old Testament took place only after the truth was revealed, and practiced. In the time of Nehemiah (who rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, making it a safe place to live) the law was read to all the people, and from this, they returned to God. Ezra used expository preaching in its fullest form to convey the content and meaning of the Law to the Children of Israel.

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading. Nehemiah 8:8

Josiah, who became king of Judah, read the law, understood it, and put it into practice, leading to wide spread, but not complete, return to the Lord (wickedness was too ingrained, and too few leaders returned to the Lord. If leaders of churches do not read the Bible, the church will be lost).

Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him. 2 Kings 23:25

In the New Testament, those that were saved after Peter preached the gospel, read, learnt and practiced the doctrine of the apostles. (Acts 2:42). It is the Bible the child of God wants to go first, yet the wolves in our churches take them to every other place but the Holy Scriptures of God.

Paul admonishes Timothy to read the Bible publically, and furthermore, Timothy was ordered to exhort (or preach) the doctrines of God (1 Timothy 4:13). This only comes from teaching verse by verse, line by line the Bible. Indeed Paul command pastors 8 times to minister from the Word of God – the complete opposite to church Pastors in 2016, who only want to appease the ears of superstitious people.

Without knowledge of God, one cannot please him – for a wife cannot please her husband except she comes to know him.

God expects His word to be preached

As rain contributes to germination, growth and fruit of the land, so does the Bible preached to Christians and non-believers. It behoves preachers to use God’s word and thoughts rather than man’s to change the hearts of people.

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void [empty], But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

Isaiah knows the power of the Scripture and can confidently state that anyone preaching God’s word, that word will not return empty [or void]. Jeremiah puts it this way: “Is not My [Yahweh’s] word like a fire?” says the LORD, “And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29). To change the hearts of men and women, the Bible is required – nothing else will work.

David L Simon
Updated: 04 Sep 2016

 

Contact the author

If you find a grammatical error, spelling error, broken hyperlink or some other error on these pages please contact me mentioning the page title and location.


Updated: 08 Jun 2015

 

Using this website

The weakness of any Christian website is the failure of the author to truly know the mind of God - his weakness due to sin (and there will be weaknesses) can always be revealed if checked against the Bible. Therefore, it is urged that anyone using this web site must check the information against the Holy Scriptures - for the test of any such information, by any person, is against the Canon. For this reason the Canon is called simply that - deriving its name from 'cane' meaning measuring stick. Even the early Christians checked what the Apostle Paul had spoken against Scripture in order to test its veracity. You need to do the same.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Furthermore, we must test all things:

Test [prove] all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:22


Updated: 11 Jan 2015

 

What's in the title of this website

The heading comes from John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible. It indicates that salvation is by faith and not by works. That is, one cannot ever achieve rightness before God by one's own effort. What one cannot forget is the rest of the text - John 3:16 does not stand alone:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light [Jesus Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

Bibles used in this website

KJV = King James Version of the Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible original work copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
NKJV = New King James Version original work copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc

ESV = The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Others used

JND = New Translation by John Nelson Darby (1890)
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Literal, Textus Receptus, King James Version), Baker Books, Michigan, 1980
Strong's = Strong's Concordance, Hebrew and Greek Lexicon (either Riverside Book and Bible House, or an on-line version)


Updated: 16 Apr 2011