Daniel in the Critic’s Den – Daniel 1:1-7

 

Summary:

The Book of Daniel centers on the events following the conquering of Israel by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and the carrying away of Israel’s people into captivity in Babylon.  Daniel was one of them.

When most people think of Daniel, they think of the lion’s den.  But that’s only one of the miracles in the book.  And all of the miracles in Daniel are important, for they prove that God didn’t desert Israel—as it looked like He did when He allowed them to be conquered.  And since these miracles are types of Israel’s future, they show He will never desert Israel—despite the claims of pastors who say He did after they killed His Son.

Of course, Bible critics don’t believe that any of the Bible’s miracles really happened. But they tend to focus their attacks on Daniel, for he also predicted which world powers would rise and fall in the following 500 years.  That proves He is God (Isaiah 41:22-25).  But critics refuse to believe Daniel predicted the future, so they date the writing of his book to be 168 B.C.—after those world powers rose and fell—making him a historian and not a prophet.  But that would make the Lord Jesus a liar, for He called him a prophet (Mark 13:14).  Besides, dating Daniel as 168 B.C. wouldn’t explain how Daniel predicted the coming of Israel’s Messiah to the very day He rode into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday.

The only reason Nebuchadnezzar was able to besiege Israel (Dan. 1:1) is because God let him conquer Israel (v. 2).  That’s something He had warned them He would do if they dis-obeyed Him (Deut. 28:15, 52).  It should also be pointed out that Daniel 1:2 says Nebuchadnezzar only took “part” of the temple’s vessels because Daniel was describing the first of three assaults Babylon made on Israel (II Chron. 36:5-18).

When God’s possessions are taken captive, His glory departs Israel (cf. Ps. 78:61).  Ezekiel saw His glory depart in 3 stages (Ezek. 10:4, 18; 11:22, 23; 21:25). The One fit to wear Israel’s crown was Christ, of course, so that makes Ezekiel 21:25 one of those prophecies that was fulfilled in Bible days but will be fulfilled again in the future.  God’s glory departed Israel in 3 stages again in Acts 13:46; 18:6 and 28:28.

Bible critics used to use Daniel 1:3 to challenge the Bible’s historicity, for no record of a man named Asphenaz serving in Babylon was ever found—until it was found on a Babylonian brick that can now be seen in the British Museum.  Of course, believers like us know Daniel is historically accurate, for history has no record of anything Nebuchadnezzar said or did from 582 B.C. to 575 B.C., something that is explained when God struck him with madness for seven years in Daniel 4.  God had also warned that “the king’s seed” (Dan. 1:3) would be taken captive by Babylon (Isa. 39:5-7).

The name “Daniel” (Dan. 1:6) means God is my judge, which reflects what God was doing with Israel at that time—judging her!  Daniel and his 3 friends were “children” (v. 3) and so were under the age of accountability that would have made them responsible for the sins Israel had committed that caused God to judge them.  But Israel was a “common-wealth” (Eph. 2:12) and so they had to suffer along with their nation when their grievous sin brought God’s wrath.

Daniel’s friends also had names that had to do with Israel’s God, so the king gave them new names (1:7).  Conquering kings often did this to their new servants to show their dominion over them (cf. Gen. 1:19, 28).  The king wanted his captives to know that he owned them, and that they should forget any hope of going back to their homeland.  The new names he gave them had to do with Nebuchadnezzar’s gods, so he was trying to get them to forget Israel’s God.

When you got saved, God gave you a new name (Eph. 3:14, 15) to show His dominion over you.  He owns you (I Cor. 6:19, 20), and wants you to forget the god you used to worship.  You used to worship the “God” you made up in your mind before you started reading the Bible, the God that usually looked and acted like you, so you could justify what you did!  He wants you to forget any hope of going back to the life you used to live.  If that’s what you want too, why not pray about it right now.  You’ll be eternally glad you did.

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Daniel in the Critic’s Den – Daniel 1:1-7

A Man Who Wasn’t Full of Baloney – Acts 11:24-30

 

Summary:

Verse 23 says Barnabas exhorted those believers to cleave to the Lord “for” he was a good man (v. 24) who cleaved to the Lord himself, despite the disappointment he must have felt when he wasn’t picked to replace Judas.  He was filled with the Spirit ever since Acts 2:4, which shows that that filling lasted more than just a day.  It must have ended by Galatians 2:11 though, or else Peter wouldn’t have needed rebuking.

But if you don’t know that it lasted for a few years, and that John wrote his first epistle during that time when the disciples were filled with the Spirit and couldn’t sin, you’ll change I John 3:9 to mean something else to try to make it fit believers today who can sin.  And once you start changing the Bible to fit your understanding of the Bible, they can stick a fork in you, for you’re done, spiritually speaking!

Barnabas was also full of “faith” (11:24) or faithfulness (cf. Ro. 3:3), so “much people” got saved.  That made him send for Saul to help teach all those people (Acts 11:25).

But why send for Saul, and not one of the twelve?  Well, be-fore Barnabas risked exposing the twelve to Saul (Acts 9:26, 27) he would have talked with Saul extensively, of course.  That means he would have known that Saul had been given a new ministry among the Gentiles, and that he would need a base of operations, just as Jerusalem was the headquarters for the ministry of the twelve among the Jews.  And what better base for a ministry to Gentiles than among these Grecians in Antioch who spoke the language of the Gentiles?

Grace believers who know that Peter called kingdom saints “Christians” (I Pe. 4:16) often ask if that’s what we should be called (cf. Acts 11:26).  But Paul didn’t respond to Agrippa by saying, “I’m not trying to make you a Christian” (Acts 26:29), which suggests he accepted the term.  And Paul said we are “named” of Christ (Eph. 3:14,15).  I don’t know what that name would be if not Christian.  Don’t over-rightly divide the Word or believers will dismiss right division altogether when they see you trying to point out dispensational distinctions between us and Israel that don’t exist.

We’re not told why some prophets came to Antioch from Jerusalem (Acts 11:27), but when verse 28 says they prophesied that a “dearth” or famine (cf. Gen. 41:54) was about to fall, that seems to hint that those prophets traveled the 300 miles to Antioch to suggest that those Grecian saints should send those saints in Jerusalem some “relief.”  Those saints didn’t lack for a thing after they sold all their investment properties to be saved, as the Lord told them they had to do to be saved (Luke 18:18, 22; Acts 4:34).  But the pooling of their resources was only meant to help them get through the 42 months of the Tribulation. That’s also why the Lord told them to not worry about having clothing to wear or where their next meal would come from (Mt. 6:31-33), for living with all things in common like that would supply their needs.

But when God postponed the Tribulation and introduced the dispensation of grace, the saints who lacked for nothing soon ran out of money and became the “poor saints” at Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26).  Of course, if you don’t understand that the dispensation of the mystery interrupted God’s prophetic program, you’re going to think He gave poor financial advice in telling them to liquidate their investment properties —or worse yet, you’ll try to follow that undispensational advice and become poor yourself!

Now the reason the saints in Antioch had the “ability” to send relief to Jerusalem was that the Lord’s “sell all” policy only applied to Judaea.  God had a separate plan to feed Tribulation Jews in outlying areas.  He planned to feed them with manna (Ex. 16:14 cf. Micah 7:14) for one thing.  And when James 5:17 associates Elijah with the three and a half year of time covered by the Great Tribulation, that suggests that God will also command the ravens to feed them (I Ki. 17:1-6) and the Gentiles as well (I Kings 17:7).

God has always wanted His people to help others “according to their ability” and not by overextending themselves (II Cor. 8:13).  But under grace we can choose to respond to God’s grace by giving financially to others and the Lord’s work beyond our ability to give (II Cor.8:1-4).  What makes believers choose to do that?  They “first” decide to give themselves to the Lord (II Cor. 8:5).  Have you?

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: A Man Who Wasn’t Full of Baloney – Acts 11:24-30

The Chattering of the Scattering – Acts 11:19-23

 

Summary:

The “scattered” disciples chattered about Christ, of course (v. 19)—but only to Jews!  That shows that they knew when the Lord told them to “teach all nations” (Mt. 28:19) that they knew He meant “all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lu. 24:47), and that they couldn’t teach all nations until the nation of Israel was saved, so God could use them to reach the Gentiles.  God might have just finished teaching Peter that Gentiles were no longer unclean in Acts 10, but that didn’t change what God told the Jews to do.

“Grecians” (v. 20) were Greek-speaking Jews.  But some new Bible versions mistranslate this as “Greeks,” the Bible word for Gentiles.  But we know that they were Jews because some Grecians tried to kill Saul for preaching that Jesus was their Christ (Acts 9:29), and only Jews were upset to hear that their Messiah was a poor carpenter from Nazareth.  Plus, these Grecians later sent Paul out to preach to the Gentiles and, when he returned, he reported that while he was out God opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  That means the door was not opened when these Jews preached to the Grecians.

Now if God didn’t approve of preaching to only Jews, He would have been against these Jews, but verse 21 says the hand of the Lord was “with” them.  How’d they know it was with them?  The hand of the Lord is associated with the Spirit (Mt. 12:28 cf. Lu. 11:20), so they knew God’s hand was with them when those Grecians cast out devils, etc., by the Spirit.

The leaders of the Jewish kingdom church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to minister to these new Grecian believers (v. 22) because he was “the son of consolation” (Acts 4:36).  That is, he had a consoling personality.  The word “sole” means single, as when we say someone was the sole survivor of a disaster, the lone survivor.  And “con” means against, like when you are trying to make a decision and you make a list of pros and cons.  So when you con-sole someone, it means you’re against them being alone—especially when they’re in distress and need consoling.  God was able to use Barnabas’ consoling personality when Saul got saved and tried to meet up with the 12 apostles and they were afraid of him (Acts 9:26).  It looked for a while as if Saul would have to remain alone, but the son of consolation consoled him.

And this explains why the 12 sent Barnabas to the new Grecian believers.  Grecians and Hebrews didn’t always get along, even when filled with the Spirit (Acts 6:1).  The 12 didn’t want those new Grecian believers to feel alone and unaccepted by the Jewish church, so sent Barnabas to console them.  The Greek word for “exhort” (v. 23) is similar to the one for “console.”

To do something with purpose of heart (v. 23) means with determination (Dan. 1:8).  So when Paul says we should give with purpose of heart (II Cor. 9:7), we should be as determined to give as Daniel was not to eat forbidden meat!

Of course, Barnabas told the Grecians to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart (v. 23).  The word “cleave” can mean to stick with (Gen. 2:24), or to divide (Zech. 14:4), but the Grecians were obviously being exhorted to do the former.

That can be hard in the face of life’s many disappointments, but Barnabas knew a thing or two about disappointments.  “Joses… surnamed Barnabas” (Acts 4:36) was probably “Joseph called Barsabbas” (Acts 1:23).  If so, do you think maybe he was disappointed that God picked Matthias to be the 12th apostle and not him?  Acts 1:15-26 says Judas’ replacement had to have followed the Lord for all three years of His ministry, so Barnabas must have. He left everything behind to follow Him as Peter left his fishing boats and nets.  Then, even after he was passed over for apostleship, he sold all he had when God asked him to (Acts 4:36,37).  If anybody had a reason to not cleave to the Lord, it was Barnabas.  He had every reason to get bitter and walk away.  But he cleaved to the Lord instead.  Who better to tell these Grecians to?

You should cleave to the Lord too!  Under the law, God promised to reward Jews who cleaved to Him (Deut. 11:22, 23).  But we’re not under the law (Rom. 6:15).  God blesses us with all spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3) and then asks us to walk worthy of Christ (Col. 1:10) by cleaving unto Him.  So if you’re thankful for your blessings, cleave to Him.

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The Chattering of the Scattering – Acts 11:19-23

The Rehearsal of the Reversal – Acts 11:1-18

Summary:

The Jews had been receiving God’s word for 1500 years, but now the Gentiles had received it (v. 1).  You’d think the 12 apostles would have been happy about that, but they gave Peter grief about sharing the Word with Gentiles (v. 2,3).  They knew Gentiles weren’t supposed to receive the Word until “every one” of the Jews was turned from his iniquities (Acts 3:25,26).  They thought Peter had committed a serious sin, so they “contended” with him (Acts 11:3), a word that’s only used in serious matters (Nehemiah 13:11,17; 13:25).

But that was only because they didn’t know God had sent Peter to that Gentile.  They had no clue God was reversing His policy of not allowing His people in Israel to fraternize with Gentiles, but they found out from Peter’s rehearsal of it

“Rehearsal” (Acts 11:4) means to repeat (I Sam. 17:31). Peter is about to repeat everything God told him when He sent him to Cornelius.  Since Peter’s brethren asked him to explain himself, he “expounded” what happened (Acts 11:4), a word that means explained (cf. Mark 4:34).  “In order” (Acts 11:4) means he gave a step-by-step rehearsal of God’s reversal.

And the reason God included Peter’s repetition of what happened is that Acts 10 is so significant the Bible repeats it as it does with the story of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:22,26.

The reason God told Peter that unclean animals were no longer unclean was to introduce Peter to the dispensational change He made when He cleansed the Gentiles and saved Paul and sent him to the Gentiles. Peter accepted this change, but when you try to introduce men to the Bible’s dispensational changes, they often say God never changes (Mal. 3:6).  Take believers like that here to Acts 10,11 to show them that God never changes, but His rules often change.

Not the rules based on the principles of morality and righteousness, like the laws against lying, stealing, etc.  But the sabbath law was changed because that was a temporary, artificial rule that God made to illustrate how someday believers could rest in Christ (Mt. 11:28).  But when you tell your 7th Day Adventist friends we are not under the law of the sabbath (Rom. 6:15), they often point out the sabbath preceded the law (Gen. 2:2,3).  But we know that no one before Moses was told to keep the sabbath because Nehemiah 9:13,14 says that God made known the sabbath to Moses when He gave him the law.

God told Peter three times that unclean animals were no longer unclean (Acts 11:10) to make sure he made the connection that Gentiles were no longer unclean when 3 Gen-tiles knocked on his door (v. 11).  But in case he missed it, the Spirit spoke up and told him to go with them (v. 12).

When the angel told Cornelius that Peter would tell him words to help him get saved (v. 13,14), that shows Cornelius was saved into the kingdom program, for the kingdom gospel of Acts 2:38 is the only gospel Peter knew.  But before he could talk about how men had to be baptized to be saved, the Spirit interrupted him (Acts 11:15).  We know that that’s what he was about to say for it says he was interrupted as he “began” to speak, but he’d already spoken 225 words!  It must mean he began to speak the gospel, but was interrupted.

All of that made Peter think of how the Lord said water baptism was just a means to receiving the Spirit (Acts 11:16).  How would that help him make sense of what was happening?  Well, when people were trying to figure out why Paul was going to the Gentiles before every one of the Jews was saved, he quoted verses that talked about how the Gentiles were supposed to be saved through the Jews that God sent Christ to (Rom.15:8-12).  That’s not how it was happening, it was happening through Paul instead.  But it was happen-ing, so who cares?  And when the Lord said men had to be baptized before being saved, that wasn’t how it happened with Cornelius, but it happened, so who cares?

Peter’s brethren rejoiced when they heard about this dispensational change (Acts 11:18), as believers always should. Later we’ll see that unsaved Jews didn’t receive this change, and tried to make the Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law. That means when believers today don’t rejoice when you show them dispensational changes, they’re acting like unbelievers.  But don’t be smug.  You do too when you sin!

Video of this message is available on YouTube: The Rehearsal of the Reversal – Acts 11:1-18

The Answer to Peter’s Prayer – Acts 10:9-16

 

Summary:

Cornelius had been given a trance vision to tell him to send men to Peter (10:1-3), and Peter was given one (v. 9, 10) to prepare him to receive them.  Peter’s hunger (v. 10) was symbolic in the same way the Lord’s hunger was (Mark 11:11-14).  The fig tree was a symbol of Israel, and the Lord hungered for spiritual fruit in Israel, and  He was doubtless praying for it as well, since He was a man of prayer.

And Peter’s hunger was symbolic of his hunger for fruit in Israel, and for fruit among the Gentiles.  Remember, the Lord sent him to the Gentiles (Mt. 28:19) but told him Israel had to be reached first (Lu. 24:47) so God could use Peter and all saved Jews to reach the Gentiles (Isa. 49:6).  When Israel rejected Christ instead, Peter hungered for fruit among the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  After all, he was in Joppa “by the sea” (10:5-8), and the sea was symbolic of the Gentiles (Isa. 60:5).  And he was no doubt praying for it too.

Peter was probably thinking of how he got to Joppa in the first place.  He was called there to raise a Jewish damsel from the dead (9:36-38).  She deserved it because of her “good works,” making her a type of Jews who were saved by faith plus works.  God brought Peter to Joppa to assure him that despite Israel’s rejection of Christ the Gentiles will still be reached when saved Jews are raised from the dead and Gentiles come to them for salvation (Isa. 60:5).  Being in Joppa also reminded Peter of this, for that’s where a Gentile brought Solomon riches for the temple (I Chron. 2:1-16).  That’s what will also happen after saved Jews are raised (Isa. 60:5).

But God also brought Peter to Joppa to teach him how He planned to reach the Gentiles in the meantime.  You see, He just saved Saul in Acts 9, and sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 16:16, 17).  And here in Acts 10, God is preparing to introduce Peter to Paul’s new ministry among the Gentiles by sending him to a Gentile named Cornelius.

Of course, Peter didn’t want to go to a Gentile—and neither did Paul.  When he headed for the Jews in Jerusalem instead, God put him in a trance to straighten him out (Acts 22:17-21).  His hunger in Acts 9:9 was symbolic of his hunger for spiritual fruit in Israel (cf. Rom. 10:1). But he also didn’t want to go to the Gentiles because he knew God’s plan was to use saved Israel to reach them (Acts 13:47).  So he was standing on God’s Word in his refusal to go to the Gentiles—just like Jonah!  Jonah wanted God to punish the Ninevite Gentiles who had slaughtered Jews, not save them, according to God’s Word in Genesis 12:3.  That’s because if you messed with Israel you messed with God (Zech. 2:8 cf. Acts 9:4)

Peter is also going to stand on God’s Word in his refusal to go to the unclean Gentiles, as symbolized when he stood on it to refuse to eat unclean animals (Acts 10:11-14).  He was “very” hungry (v. 10) but he used God’s Word in Leviticus 11 to resist the temptation to eat unclean things.  When you’re tempted to be sinfully unclean, you should do the same.  God’s Word to you says that He sees you as a new man who cannot sin (Col. 3:9, 10).  Live like He sees you!

Since Peter knew that God told the Jews that certain meats were unclean to remind them that the Gentiles were unclean, he knew that this vision meant they were no longer unclean (Acts 10:27, 28).

The past tense word “hath” (Acts 10:15) means God cleansed meats and Gentiles back in Acts 9 when He saved Saul.  Peter was just learning about this in Acts 10.  But he’s a bit thick-headed, so God gave him the vision three times (10:16) just as the Lord had to call him three times to follow Him

But the main reason the vision was repeated three times was that Cornelius had sent Peter three Gentiles (10:7, 8), and the Lord wanted Peter to make the connection and get the message that Gentiles were no longer unclean.  The law required two or three witnesses to settle things (cf. Deut. 19:15), so the Lord witnessed the vision to him thrice.

Peter wasn’t being a Jewish racist, nor were the other Jews who preached only to Jews (Acts 11:19).  They rejoiced when they heard God sent Peter to Gentiles (11:18).  They just knew Israel was supposed to get saved first.

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The Answer to Peter’s Prayer – Acts 10:9-16

The Leader of the Italian Band – Acts 10:1-8

 

Summary:

When it says that Cornelius “feared God” (10:1,2), that didn’t mean he was saved.  As a matter of fact, we know he wasn’t saved, for God is about to tell him how to be saved (11:13).  We know being “devout” (10:2) didn’t mean “saved” either, for Acts 17:2-4 describes some people who were devout before they got saved.  “Devout” just means devoted to, and Cornelius was obviously devoted to God.

That’s a good first step in getting saved (Heb. 11:6), but you also have to do what God says to do to be saved.  People often wonder how God can fairly judge people who never hear the gospel, but Cornelius illustrates the answer!  When he sought God, God showed him the gospel (cf. Ps. 25:8-14).

True, “there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11), in and of themselves.  But God does things to make men seek Him.  He speaks to them through the stars (Ps. 19:1-3) and He divided men up into different nations (Gen. 10,11) “that” they might seek Him (Acts 17:24-27), to name just a few.

But Cornelius had a problem.  He was a Gentile, and the God of Israel wasn’t receiving Gentiles under the new kingdom program (Mt. 15:23,24).  But a Gentile could be saved under the old program of the law that was still going on as the new program was being introduced.  But Gentiles needed Jews to tell them what the law said about how to be saved.  Luckily for Cornelius we know there were Jews in Caesarea, for there were Jews everywhere (cf. Acts 2:5).  We see evidence that his hometown Jews told him he could get saved by giving alms “to the people” of Israel (10:2).  That’s one thing Gentiles had to do to be saved (Gen. 12:1-3 cf. Luke 7:2-5).

But doing that hadn’t saved Cornelius because the new kingdom program that included water baptism for salvation had now been introduced.  So now Cornelius needed Jews who could tell him about that too!  We know that Philip knew the new program because he baptized the eunuch, and he was living in Caesarea (Acts 8:40 cf. 21:8).  And as an “evangelist” he would have made a lot of converts by that time.  So why hadn’t they told Cornelius how to be saved?

It was because they were still preaching to Jews only (Acts 11:19) until all Israel was saved.  But when unsaved Jews stoned Stephen and made it clear that wouldn’t happen, God saved Saul in Acts 9 and sent him to the Gentiles, changing the kingdom program to His even newer mystery program.

But God didn’t tell Philip about that, for the mystery was given to Paul, not Philip (Eph. 3:1-3).  But to introduce what Paul was starting to do among the Gentiles, God is about to give Cornelius a vision to tell him how to be saved.

We see more proof that Cornelius was obeying the law to be saved in that he was praying in “the ninth hour” (Acts 10:3 cf. 10:30), “the hour of prayer” (3:1).  Because of all that, his prayers came up to God “for a memorial” (10:4).  A memorial is something to help you remember something, as when Memorial Day helps us remember the men who died serving our country.  The Jews had sacrifices for a memorial (Lev. 6:15) to help them remember that the reason they had to keep offering them was that they kept sinning (Heb. 10:3).

Cornelius’ prayers were a memorial in place of offerings like that, just as David’s were when he was on the run from Saul (Ps. 141:2) and couldn’t offer sacrifices in the temple.  So in saying Cornelius’ prayers came to God as a memorial, that means they were as accepted of God as David’s prayers!

Don’t overlook the fact that the angel calls Peter by his original name (Acts 10:5,6).  His full name was “Simon Barjonah” (Mt. 16:17), which means son of Jonah (cf. Mark 10:46).  His father was obviously named after the prophet Jonah, who liked to argue with God (Jonah 4)—like Peter (Mt. 16:22; Acts 10:14).  We see more proof that Peter was a symbolic son of Jonah in that God is about to send him to the Gentiles like He sent Jonah, and both men had to be convinced to go!  Instead, Jonah went to Joppa (Jonah 1:3)—where Peter was (Acts 10:5).  See the parallels?

Peter was “by the sea side” (Acts 10:6), and the sea is a symbol of the Gentiles (Isa. 60:5; Rev. 13:1-4).  When the angel told Cornelius that Peter would tell him what he had to “do” (Acts 10:6), we know he meant do to be saved (Acts 11:13), so Cornelius obeyed without delay (Acts 10:7,8)!

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The Leader of the Italian Band – Acts 10:1-8

The Builder and His Building – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

 

Summary:

Paul wants us to build the “building” of the “house” of our own personal spiritual lives on the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ (v.11, 12) so that your house can withstand the storms of life (cf. Mt. 7:24-29).  But it’s also important what you build your house with (v. 12).

You say, “Who builds a house with things like gold?”  Solomon!  He built the temple with it (I Ki. 6:17-21), and that house was a type of what God will someday make the house of Israel into (Rev. 3:12).  That’s the living temple of God He had in mind when He said He’d live in the Jews (II Cor. 6:16).

But that wasn’t God’s only house of people.  Paul told Timothy about a “house” that was “the church, which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22, 23).  That’s God’s other house of people, and it’s also the other house He wants us to build on the foundation of Christ!  It’s a house made up of all the individual spiritual houses of the members of Christ’s Body.  God wants us to build up their houses as well as our own.

This “great house” of the Body contains vessels made of gold and silver (II Tim. 2:20).  A vessel is a container used to carry things (Ge. 43:11).  Ships are called vessels because they carry cargo.  God put the cargo of the gospel in us (II Cor. 4:3-7) expecting us to carry it to others, as He did Paul (Acts 9:15).

And He doesn’t want the vessel carrying His salvation dishonored by sin (I Thes. 4:3, 4), like the vessels of dishonor in II Timothy 2:20.  And when Paul talks about honorable vessels of gold and silver in the context of rewards in our text, that tells us the personal conduct of our testimony is the first thing God plans to reward.  Not because our sin hurts Him—Christ paid for that hurt!—but because it hurts the gospel.

But the gospel isn’t the only thing God wants you carrying in your vessel to others.  To build up the spiritual house of other believers, you have to carry Pauline truth to them.  If you fail, you are a vessel of dishonor.  We know this because the “these” Paul says you have to purge to be a vessel of honor (II Tim. 2:20-22) are dispensational errors (2:16-18).

God plans to test our works for wood, hay and stubble like that (I Cor. 3:13) at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10) with the “fire” of God’s Word (Jer. 23:29) to see what “sort” it is.  “Sort” means kind (cf. Deut. 22:11).  God is going to judge the quality of your work when the fire of His word burns up your wood and hay, and leaves the gold and silver that can “abide” the fire still standing (I Cor. 3:14, 15).

He won’t put you in the fire.  He did that when He identified you with Christ on the Cross and His fire fell on Him for your sins.  So your sins will only be judged as they affect your work.  The word “wrong” in Colossians 2:22-25 doesn’t mean servants will be punished for their sins at the Judgment Seat.  It means they’ll suffer a loss of reward for being bad servants.  The wages of sin is death, not a loss of reward!

All believers will suffer that loss for the “bad” work they’ve done as servants of the Lord (II Cor. 5:10).  “Bad” doesn’t mean sinful (cf. Num. 13:20; Jer. 24:2; Mt.13:48), it means we did a bad job building up the church.  A bad carpenter doesn’t follow the blueprints, and a bad believer doesn’t follow the blueprints for the church found in Paul’s epistles.

A believer who does a good job building according to Paul’s blueprints will be rewarded with a “crown” (I Cor. 9:25) so he can “reign” with Christ (II Tim. 2:12) over the angels (I Cor. 6:3).  God wants us to run so we can reign at the highest possible level (I Cor. 9:25-27).  Paul compares the Judgment Seat to Olympic games like that because it will be a joyous day, not a somber day, like when sinners are judged and sent to the lake of fire.  The “terror” we’ll know in that day is the kind Israel had just standing in God’s presence, when He wasn’t even mad (Ex. 20:18-20). The “mercy” Onesiphorus will need is the kind Israel got when God didn’t leave the Jews in captivity (Ezr. 9:9), the loss-of-reward kind.

But our motivation to serve the Lord isn’t rewards, it’s the love Christ showed in dying for us, as Paul went on to say (II Cor. 5:14, 15).  But the foundation of your spiritual house can’t burn, because it is the rock-solid foundation of Christ. So even if all your work burns at the Judgment Seat, you’ll still be saved in that day “yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:15).

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: The Builder and His Building – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Laboring Together on Paul’s Foundation – 1 Corinthians 3:9-11

 

Summary:

Paul begins by comparing himself and Apollos (3:1-8) to “laborers” like farmers and builders (v. 9).  “Husbandry” is the Bible word for farming (cf. James 5:7), and Paul has already compared the ministry farming earlier in this chapter.  He told the Corinthians that he planted the seed of the gospel in them and Apollos watered it (3:6).

He had to assure them he and Apollos were “labourers together” because some of them liked one over the other, so they thought Paul and Apollos were working against one another, vying for their love and money.  He gave them more assurance they were working together when he explained how he invited Apollos to go to Corinth (I Cor. 16:12), and he showed he wasn’t competing with Paul when he refused!

After identifying who the farmers were, Paul identified the farm when he told them, “ye are God’s husbandry” (3:9).  But the ministry is more than seeing people get saved and become babes in Christ.  God wants them to grow up in Christ, and to expand on that thought Paul switches from the metaphor of farmers and farming to builders and building, telling them that they are God’s building.

God uses both analogies for “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).  He called Israel a farm (Ps. 80:8,9) and a building (Amos 9:11).  They were the temple God lived in (II Cor. 6:1).  Of course, they sometimes got so sinful God had to relocate to heaven!  But in the New Testament, the Lord said He planned to build a church that would never get so sinful God would be force to leave it (Mt. 16:16-18).  We call it the kingdom church (v. 19).  But once Israel rejected her kingdom, God stopped building that church and began building the church which is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23).

The first thing you need to build a building is an architect, and the Greek word for “masterbuilder” (v. 10) is archi-tekton.  “Arch” means chief, as in archangel (Jude 1:9).  “Tekton” is translated carpenter (Mt. 13:55).  So put them together and you get chief carpenter, or masterbuilder.  Paul is the architect of the church, the Body (Eph. 3:2-6).  But he didn’t just draw up the plans in his epistles and hand Apollos the blueprint.  He was a “hands-on” architect, helping in the ministry, and so “masterbuilder” describes him perfectly!

We know Moses was the architect of the kingdom church because the Lord kept quoting him (Mt. 8:4; Mark 10:3; 12:26).  The Pharisees were supposed to be the masterbuilders  (Mt. 23:1-3), but the Lord knew they’d kill Him instead of building the church on Him as the church’s foundation like they should have. So He told a parable in which he combined farming and building to say He’d take the church from them (Mt. 21:33-43) and give it to His “little flock” of followers (Luke 12:32), making them the new builders.

Of course, the Lord knew the 12 would have to be wise masterbuilders, so He gave them a supernatural gift of wisdom (Acts 2:4; 6:3).  We see that pictured when God gave Solomon a supernatural gift of wisdom to build the temple and the kingdom (II Chro. 2:12).  That’s why the 12 asked the Lord to “restore” the kingdom like they had under Solomon (Acts 1:6).  When Israel rejected the kingdom, God began to build the Body of Christ, making Paul the wise masterbuilder of it by giving him a supernatural gift of wisdom as an apostle (cf. Rom.12:6; 15:15,16; Eph. 3:7,8).

This helps us understand how Paul could say he laid the foundation of Christ (3:11) even though he wasn’t saved when the Lord came to be the foundation of Israel’s church.  He meant He laid Christ as the foundation of a new church!

When building on this foundation, Paul has the “house” of your own personal spiritual life in mind (cf. Luke 6:46-48), and the house of the local church as well, as we’ll see next week!

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Laboring Together on Paul’s Foundation – 1 Corinthians 3:9-11

Spiritual Babies – 1 Corinthians 3:1-8

 

Summary:

The Corinthians were still “babes in Christ” (3:1) five years after Paul started the church.  So why had they failed to grow?  Well, a baby won’t grow if you don’t feed it nourishing food, and spiritual babies won’t grow if they’re not fed the spiritual nourishment of God’s Word.  But Paul fed them the “milk” of the Word (3:2) for a year and a half (Acts 18:1,11), because that’s what babes in Christ need to grow (I Pet. 2:2), then followed up with them by writing them epistles (I Cor. 5:9; II Cor. 1:1).

So their problem wasn’t a lack of nourishment.  Their problem was similar to the one in Hebrews 5:11-14.  They hadn’t used what they learned from the Bible to help them discern good and evil, so the writer calls them babes too.  And we know the Corinthians had the same problem because Paul says they were “carnal” (3:1).  We know that word means sinful for Paul says they were carnal because there was “envying” and “stife” among them (3:3), and those are sins.

And they are very babyish sins.  Did you ever watch babies play?  When one picks up a toy, suddenly that’s the one the other one wants!  We call that envy.  And what does he do about it?  He strives with the other about it.  The Corinthians were showing their spiritual immaturity when they were envying—and so do we when we envy!

What were they envying?  Words (cf. I Tim. 6:4), the words of Paul and Apollos (3:4).  Christians are always striving about the words of preachers!  If you’re wondering where the “envying” comes in, compare what happened when some men began prophesying in Israel and Joshua objected.  Moses asked why he envied for his sake (Num. 11:27).

Now Moses didn’t envy those other prophets, and Paul didn’t envy Apollos.  He called him a fellow minister (3:5).  But when Moses said he didn’t envy those other men, that didn’t mean he felt they had the same authority he had.  He knew he was God’s man of the hour (Deut. 4:1,2), the one God chose to write the first 5 books of the Bible and give Israel the rules for the dispensation of the law.

And Paul knew he was God’s man of the hour for the dispensation of grace.  God gave him what to give us (I Cor. 11:23; 15:3), just as He gave Moses what to give Israel (Deut. 4:5).  That means if you wanted to follow God in time past you had to follow Moses as he followed Him, and if you want to follow God today you have to follow Him as Paul followed Him (I Cor. 11:1).

So in calling himself and Apollos both ministers, he didn’t mean they were equal ministers.  Paul was “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles” (Rom. 15:16).

Here I need to point out that God didn’t give those other prophets anything He didn’t give Moses.  The difference was that God spoke to them in visions, but He spoke to Moses “face to face” (Num. 12:6-8).  And the Lord spoke to Paul face to face, by revelation, by revealing Himself to Paul directly (Gal. 1:11,12), but He spoke to the New Testament prophets in the Body of Christ “by the Spirit” (Eph. 3:2-5).

Paul “planted” the seeds of the gospel in Corinth (3:6) and Apollos watered those seeds by reinforcing what Paul taught.  But God has to give “the increase” because only God can give life, just as the only thing you bury in the ground that can give life are seeds.

But only the seeds of God’s Word rightly divided can give life.  God told Abraham if he got circumcised he could have eternal life.  Moses told the Jews if they obeyed the law they could have life (Lev. 18:5).  The Lord told the Jews if they got baptized they could have life (Mark 16:16).  Only Paul says you can have life by faith alone without works.  If you sow any of those other Bible seeds in the hearts of men today in the dispensation of grace, they won’t yield eternal life!

Finally, don’t forget that the Corinthians spoke in tongues (I Cor. 12-14), and yet Paul called them “carnal” and not “spiritual.”  Don’t ever let anyone who thinks he can speak in tongues tell you that it is a sign of spirituality, for God says otherwise!  And don’t feel unspiritual just because you can’t imitate the gift of tongues as some do.  The gift of tongues is a gift God is no longer giving to His people!

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Spiritual Babies – 1 Corinthians 3:1-8

What’s In A Name? – Acts 9:36-43

 

Summary:

“Tabitha” (9:36) was a Hebrew name, the Greek Gentile translation of which was “Dorcas.”  All names have meanings, and Tabitha means “beauty,” while Dorcas means “gazelle.”  So both names mean kind of the same thing, for gazelles are beautiful animals.

But the meanings of names in the Bible often have spiritual significance.  This woman was a type of the nation of Israel.  You see, when the people of Israel did good works like they did under King Solomon, He made sure they were beautiful in the eyes of the other nations.  But when they did bad works instead, He allowed the Babylonians to destroy their beautiful city and take them captive (Lam. 2:13-15).

But they were beautiful as long as they were doing good works, as we see symbolized by Dorcas, whose name means “beauty,” and who is said to have been “full of good works” (9:36).  She lived in Joppa, another name for beauty, making it a symbol of Jerusalem.  She was beautiful and lived in a beautiful city—just like the people of Israel when they were doing good works!

But the beauty of Israel died when they got so sinful God allowed Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take them captive, and it died again when they crucified Christ and stoned Stephen in Acts 7, something we see symbolized when Dorcas died here in Acts 9:37. God wanted to restore a beautiful kingdom to them, like they had when they were doing good works under Solomon (Acts 1:6), but all hopes of that died when they stoned Stephen, as depicted with Dorcas’ death.

The “upper chamber” they laid her in was a type of heaven.  That’s where all Israel’s hopes and dreams of the beautiful kingdom God wanted to give her went after they rejected it.  And that’s where they are to this day (I Peter 1:3,4), as we see pictured when they laid Dorcas in an upper chamber.  Their kingdom is vested there in Christ, as we see it vested in Christ on Palm Sunday (Lu. 19:38 cf. Mark 11:10).  We see this again when the Lord told some unbelievers the kingdom was within them (Luke 17:21).  He meant the kingdom they asked about (v. 20) was right in their midst vested in Him (cf. the words “within you” to Deut. 28:43,44).

When Dorcas died, her loved ones didn’t bury her, they sent for Peter to raise her from the dead (9:38-40).  That’s a pic-ture of how Israel’s hopes of a kingdom were dead, but they weren’t dead and buried!  All the nation needs is a resurrection—the kind we see pictured when Peter raised Dorcas!

When it says they brought Peter into that upper chamber (v. 39,40), that’s a picture of how the Lord went to heaven to get the kingdom and return (Lu. 19:12-15).  That’s where He went after He died and rose again, but someday He’ll return with the kingdom to raise saved Jews to enter it.  “Lydda” (v. 38) was the Greek form of the Hebrew city of “Lod,” which means nativity or generation.  That’s a picture of the re-generation of resurrection that the Lord will give the Jews when He returns (Mt. 19:28)—but only Jews who did good works like Dorcas!

Remember, we’re saved by faith without works (Tit. 3:5), but Jews under the law were saved by faith plus works of righteousness (Ps. 15:1,2) like animal sacrifices (Deut. 33:19 cf. Ps. 4:5; 51:19).  They also worked righteousness by obeying the sabbath, the feasts, and other parts of the law (Lu. 1:6).  Then the Lord added another work they had to do to be saved, sell all they had and give to the poor (Lu. 18:18,22).

That’s called an “alms” (Lu. 12:33 cf. Acts 3:2,3), and Dorcas is said to have done “almsdeeds” (9:36).  So she didn’t make coats and garments (v. 39) for herself, but for the poor to be saved, making her a type of Jews in the Tribulation (James 2:14-17).  Job was a type of this (Job 31:19-22).  He had to go through some tribulation, but was rewarded in the end, just as Jews will have to go through the Tribulation but will be rewarded in the end—if they did the good works of clothing the needy like Job and Dorcas did!

When it says Peter “presented” her to her family, that’s a picture of Jude 1:22-24, where Jews who had “compassion” on the needy and clothed them will be “presented” to the Lord and His host to enter the kingdom.

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: What’s In A Name? – Acts 9:36-43