Here a Little There a Little
Elder Keith Ellis
As I never intended this work to cover every little detail, there are some things that need to be mentioned. However, as space is limited and there are several things that still need to be mentioned, I want to use this section to mention a variety of things that should be helpful in your Bible knowledge.
One thing that will be helpful for you is to understand the difference between the gospel ministry and the Old Testament priesthood. The priesthood dealt strictly with the offering of sacrifices and the law of Moses. The priesthood was a "type" of Jesus Christ. Since Jesus has been manifested there is no longer a need for the "type" which the priesthood signified. Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the Elect. Therefore there is no longer a need for a priest to offer sacrifices, to stand as a mediator between God and man. For now we know that Jesus Christ Himself is the only mediator between God and man (see 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, & 12:24). Those who still use the title "priest" in essence deny that Jesus has fulfilled the law and the prophets, and mock the sacrifice of Jesus.
The gospel ministry has been ordained of God to feed His people with knowledge and understanding.
Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the gospel of Jesus Christ, God enables men (those born again) to feast on the good things of God, to learn how to worship God in Spirit and in truth. It is for this reason that God has called us to gospel fellowship. Coming into the church does not save us for heaven.
The preacher is simply an under-shepherd who is to point you to Jesus. He can not save a single person for heaven, but can tell you how God does. If he has been called of God to the gospel ministry he will be a humble person whose only care is that God be glorified and that His people will be fed with the truth.
In the church is where your Bible study will really pay off for you. Here is where your personal Bible study will be brought to bear in the preaching hour. I personally expect this whenever I am not preaching. The Bible refers to this as the secrets of the heart being made manifest. Remember God sees in secret and rewards us openly.
The word "Hell" as it is used in the New Testament has various meanings. This is another place where most people take for granted it always means "the place where the devil and his angels burn with fire."
Sometimes it refers to "the grave" and sometimes it refers to the place where the lost will spend eternity. Sometimes it describes for us the state of things in our lives. By disobedience we can experience a literal "hell on earth."
Even though this is not a pleasant subject, God believes we need to be aware of its reality. If He did not think so then He would not have placed it in His word. There are some people who teach that there is no hell. They do not derive this teaching from the Bible, however. To say the least this is a dangerous teaching. To say there is no hell denies that Jesus has saved us from it. If Jesus did not save us from hell, then what did He save us from?
The words "death" or "dead" will need your close attention when you see them. Sometimes the Bible may be speaking about physical death. Sometimes it may be talking about a "separation" from God which is often defined as a death.
Now if a text tells us we have the ability to save a soul from death, by showing a brother the error of his way, it does not mean we can save him from eternal hell, but from the separation of the fellowship of God here in this time world.
There is no such thing as dead, deader and deadest. Dead is dead. Either we are dead or alive in whateversense is under consideration. Paul refers to a people who walk and talk, having physical life, but are dead in trespasses and sins (see Ephesians 2:1). They are dead to the things of God. This is the condition of every single person who has ever been delivered from his mother's womb and has breathed a breath of air. In this condition they are the enemies of God (see Romans 3:10-18 & John 3:3) Hence the reason why Jesus speaks life to the individual,is to make him or her born again (see John 5:25). Please do not make the mistake of many in this day. They believe what God said about Adam and Eve dying the day they ate the forbidden fruit. They believe that everyone who has experienced a natural birth is dead unto God until they are born again. Yet in the practical application of these teachings they have "dead men" doing all sorts of things that the Bible says dead men cannot do (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).
You will read in your Bible statements by Christ. You must understand that Jesus is both God and man. He stands as mediator between God and man. Sometimes when He speaks of Himself it refers to the human nature. Other times when He speaks he refers to His Divine nature.
As a man, Jesus has gone through all the heartaches and disappointments that you and I have. He has experienced pain and has also been tempted by the
devil. He knows what it means to be poor.
His Divine nature is in direct contact with God. He knows what God's justice requires of man. He is able to manifest God's love to His people. He possesses all power both in heaven and in earth. He is God in the flesh.
Keep this in mind as you read. If not then likely you will not be able to reap the true meanings of His statements.
A reward is payment or repayment for an action or service rendered. Heaven or eternal life is not a reward. We can not work for it. We will be rewarded by God for our works in this lifetime, whether good or evil. Besides, the best of our works are tainted with sin and would fall short of the righteousness of Jesus Christ (see Luke 17:6-10). If we got what we deserve we would all get eternal damnation. Do not ask God for justice, but rather ask for mercy!
Heaven is an "inheritance," not a reward. It is given to all those who have been adopted into the family of God (see Ephesians 1:4-11).
Do not think that all judgment referred to in the Bible is negative or eternal judgment. There is a mindset in the Christian community that says everywhere the word "judgment" appears it must be eternal judgment. Many times the judgment is positive. Such as "well done thou good and faithful servant."
Many times it refers to circumstances in this life, and has nothing at all to do with eternity.
I am afraid that this is another place where the "Jesus Hucksters" of the day take advantage of illiterate Christians to make merchandise of them.
Jesus Christ is the living Word. (see John 1:1 1:14 & 1 John1:1) The Apostle John was closest of all the disciples to the Lord. He understood a great deal about the living Word or "logos," which is Christ. Logos is the Greek word describing the living Word. We must be able to distinguish the difference between the "logos" and the "rhema" or written word. The word of God is the "sword of the Spirit," not the Spirit itself (see Ephesians 6:17).
The inability to distinguish the difference has led many to advocate the false doctrine of "gospel regeneration." Although the Bible has a saving power (for time), it does not give eternal life. It merely manifests or brings to light the life and immortality which the Holy Spirit works in us (see 2 Timothy 1:9-10).
There is a begetting to discipleship which involves the gospel. The new birth which Jesus describes is wholly the work of the Holy Spirit apart from the gospel or any other means.
The doctrine of gospel regeneration denies the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and teaches that man has control over the salvation of mankind, though the Bible says he does not (see John 5:25 & Matthew 19:25-26).
By ignoring the difference, many have been found to be "playing God." Again, not understanding the difference between God's responsibility and man's responsibility as a disciple of Jesus Christ can lead to disastrous consequences.
Abundant life refers to enjoying the blessings of God here and now. This is the life that the gospel brings through obedience to its commands and precepts, not eternal life.
I speak with people all the time who think that the Bible is addressed to those to whom it does not apply. They use a text which calls upon God's people to return from their backslidings and apply it to those who have never been in relation with God. They fail to understand that a person cannot "return" to somewhere he has never been. A person who has never been in relation with God can not return to God. I have never been to California, therefore I can not return. Simple, isn't it? It pays to look at sentence structure.
The Bible uses natural things to teach use spiritual lessons. For instance Jesus uses a tree to explain to us how we should bring forth fruit. He also tells us that a tree is known by its fruit (see Matthew 7:15-20). The beginnings of an apple tree start with the seed which is placed in good ground. Water and light are then necessary for the seedling to break forth from the ground. It is usually a few years before the tree brings forth its fruit. But just because it has not yet brought forth its fruit does not mean that it is not an apple tree.
When I see someone who displays the fruits of the Spirit I know that these fruits are the effect of the Spirit, not the cause of the Spirit. Just like I know that an apple is not suspended in midair and then the tree grows under it. The tree comes first and then the apple. Then same is true with God's people. Faith is a fruit or effect of the Spirit, not the cause as we so often hear (see Galatians 5:22). In other words if someone exercises faith, or any of the fruits of the Spirit, I know that it is because THEY ARE children of God, not so they can be.
There are doctrines which the Bible teaches and are necessary to be taught. We find that if they are unpopular most people will deny them or explain them away. The doctrines of election and predestination are two teachings that run throughout the Bible. You
will rarely hear them taught, if ever, in mainstream
Christian churches. The reason is that these doctrines take away from man what he THINKS he has, which is control over his eternal destiny.
But if we want to get the most from our walk with God, we must be responsible and declare all the counsel of God. Whether or not we believe what the Bible teaches does not change the fact that it is truth one single bit.
God is not the author of sin. The Bible reveals that God utterly abhors or hates sin. It is contrary to His very nature. Sin comes under the permissive decree of God, that is, God allows it to take place in our lives for our good and His ultimate glory, just as when Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. They intended evil by it, but God allowed it for good (see Genesis chapter 37 & 45:7).
Contrary to what some think, God has complete control of everything, even the devil, and he can go no further than God will permit (see Job chapter 2 & John 17:2).
There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. Sin is condemned in the natural body. The flesh will continue to sin from time to time. Do not expect to become sinless until the morning of the resurrection
when these corruptible bodies will be changed to incorruptible.
When the Bible refers to not sinning it is talking about the spiritual body, the Divine nature, that part of us which is born of God. This is God dwelling in us and He cannot sin (see 1 John1:10, 3:9 & Romans 7:22-23).
The anti-Christ is any spirit that denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It was present in the days of the writings of the Apostle John even as it is today. The idea that there is a man who will be "The Anti-Christ" at some time in the future can not be supported by the Bible (see 1 John4:3). This is another subject in which you need to consider the "time context" very carefully.
The beast of Revelation, whose number is 666, is not a future character as we so often hear. Remember to consider the "time context" of any verse you have question about.
In the King James version, when the words "God" or "Spirit" are capitalized, it is talking about "The God of Heaven" and "The Spirit of God," as opposed to the gods of this world and evil spirits or the natural spirit of man.
When reading and you come to a colon (:) or a semi colon (;) at the end of a sentence it means that the thought the writer intended is not finished and you should read on.
A place where this rule is usually ignored is John 1:12-13:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe on his name: Which were born, NOT of BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD." (caps mine) John 1:12-13
It is easy to see why most people leave the thirteenth verse off. It is because it does not line up with "THEIR" popular doctrine.
The Bible, or the written word, can be corrupted by man (see 2 Corinthians 2:17). It is sad but true. This word, when in the hands of false teachers and deceitful men becomes corrupted seed and usually ends up bringing forth weeds and thorns rather than the beautiful fruit that God expects.
The Living Word, the Logos, or Christ is not corruptible.
Compare 1 John 3:9 and 1 Peter 1:23 with 2 Corinthians 2:17.