The Lighthouse Sentinel
So truthful, it hurts!
VOL. I NUM. III
2015 HOLY SPIRIT ALL RIGHTS PRESERVED
PAID IN FULL
Another Rejected Prophet: Paul's distinctive ministry of grace and the church's failure in recognizing it (Ephesians 3:1-7).
In Ephesians 3:1-7, the apostle Paul presented a statement to the saints concerning the special dispensing of grace that Jesus Christ revealed to him for our edification:
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Paul's usage of the word "if" in verse 2 of the above passage is not used in the context of something that he and his readers know and agree upon (as in the word "since" which can be rendered as a fact of something understood). Instead, this Greek word (eige) is translated "if" with either a negative overtone or something conditional in all of the five passages it is used in Paul's other letters (ref. (2 Cor 5:3, Gal. 3:4, Eph. 3:2, Eph. 4:21, Col.1:23).
So Paul's statement or inquisition in verse 2 wasn't a "Hey guys, since you know and understand God's special dispensing of grace, let me expound more upon it...." type of declaration at all....
Let me explain a bit further. In addition to the Greek that the translators chose using the word "eige", one must also consider the surrounding words that tie to the verses in order to understand the correct context and intent of the topic being discussed.
In this case, Paul's inquiry was more of an indictment of their dullness on the matter and I am afraid, nearly 2, 000 years later, little has changed concerning the understanding people have on how God is dealing with us today according to His grace; so much so it has been called the "dispensing of grace"!
Notice in the verses (3-7) afterwards, the apostle goes into further detail of how the risen, glorified Lord Jesus Christ spoke to him by special revelation about a completely distinct doctrine for those saved under Paul's ministry (ref. 1 Tim. 1:16). It is this doctrine that has been hidden from unrepentant men and further convoluted by Satan, the prince of the power of the air (Eph.2:2).
1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:1-4
From Genesis to Revelation, the bible shows us mankind's rebellion and unbelief time and time again against the backdrop of God's greatness. The story is the same; God dispenses rules for man to follow. Man as a steward or manager, is required to take God at His word and demonstrate his faithfulness to God. In this wonderful dispensing of grace, Romans 4:4,5 is foundational in relation to what man has to believe.
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
We see the requirement being "faith". Here is where Paul's message comes into play. Paul referred to "the faith" as belief or trusting in God based on what He said. God The Father placed all of the sins of the world on God The Son thus "reconciling them to Himself and NOT charging their sins against them" as 2 Corinthians 18-21 tells us. Since sin was paid for by Christ to satisfy the holy requirements of God, it can no longer be the reason that man will not enter heaven. It's an issue of accepting Christ's righteousness as a means to get to heaven. Unfortunately, this message is rejected by many people along with the fact that Paul's ministry was distinct and unique from the 12 apostles whose ministry was to Israel. If we combine the two ministries, we have perverted God's message of reconciliation that should take precedence over any other gospel or good news message! Notice what Paul said in Galatians 1:
1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
There are many major challanges for the saints in trying to communicate the ministry of reconciliationto a lost world. You may have more in mind but the two below seem foundational:
Finding a way to communicate to a world that is increasingly stimulated by the visual, sensual, amazing and charasmatic aspects of media. These stimuli focus and appeal to the flesh and not on sound reasoning and logic. Emotion versus intellect seems to rule, even in many of our church assemblies where we see more time dedicated to music and entertainment rather than study of Paul's letters.
Along the same lines as above, we lack genuine love for one another. Otherwise known as agape or unconditional love, we must recognize the strong draw of the flesh so that even when we do have someone else's best interest in mind, that somewhere hidden is the expectation of a returned favor or recognition for the good that we have done.
Which is the correct way to be water baptized?
One of the most divisive issues pervading in churches across America today has to do with a simple work: water baptism!
Think for a moment about the various ways a person can be baptized: sprinkled, submersed in the ocean, lake, or pool, 3 times forward, 3 times backward, for church membership, for salvation (yikes!!!) and the most common way for many bible believers to be baptized is "for an outward expression of an inward change"! It is believed that if people or family members witness such a ceremony, they will come diving into the baptismal area begging to be saved. If this is truly embraced by believers today, why not get baptized once a month? This rational is inconsistent and I know this because I used it. Personally, I have been baptized twice; once as an infant and once as an adult. Most denominations are centered around this ritual which usually distinguishes them between themselves with each institution being the only correct way!
It is such a divisive topic that many years ago, my family and I were thrown out of our church for not believing in the relevancy of water baptism for this glorious, dispensing of God's grace.
But what does the bible really say about this topic? Setting aside tradition, our pride and what we think makes us feel good, what does the bible say about water baptism? Most people would agree that if it was good enough for Jesus Christ, it is good enough for me. However, if I am keeping scripture in its context and were to get water baptized because Christ Himself was baptized, then I better be prepared to carry out the rest of the law since that was how God was dealing with mankind at that time. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing components of the bible to fit our doctrine unless we desire to be in error! Even in the early church Paul made note of a division over this very issue:
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. - 1 Corinthians 1:10-17
How could Paul take such a cavalier attitude about something so important that Jesus Himself made it a point to tell His followers:
Matthew 28:19 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Why the confusion? Can both scriptures be correct or is man confused? Yes to both! Man is confused and is continually falling short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) His propensity is to rebel against God, even as a believer.
Over time and eternity, man has not proven himself to be faithful to God's instructions and it is no different now. The only thing that strengthens us, sustains us and gives us hope is the person and completed cross-work of Jesus Christ, nothing more, nothing less. With our failures so obvious, why should it surprise us that we messed this whole baptism thing up as well?!?!
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 - Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
The "that" which is perfect is not Christ Himself (although He is perfect) but doctrine or revelation from God. Look up the word "that" in your Strong's Concordance. "That" cannot be tied to a person. Please remember that healings, tongues, special knowledge and prophesying would cease as we just read. All of these sign gifts were performed the same time Paul was baptizing, but were to cease as he received completed knowledge from the risen Christ! The Body of Christ and other churches have mistakenly brought in a water ritual from a past dealing of God with man (through Israel) to today's doctrine.
In Acts 2, after Peter gave a stinging indictment to those mockers of the movement of God The Holy Spirit, there were some who were repentant that approached him asking what they should do next, notice:
When people asked among themselves; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" What did Peter say? Did he say; "Trust in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for your sins and you will be justified before God the Father through simple faith? " No way!! He said; "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." I know many teachers and leaders may try to wrangle this portion of scripture to fit the way we are saved today under Paul's gospel, but this would not be correct bible hermeneutics (interpretation). Peter told them they were to repent (change their mind) and be water baptized in order to have their sins remitted. They would then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Friend, if you think we are saved in this way, this reasoning flies in the face of the grace of God that Our Lord Jesus Christ committed to the apostle Paul on our behalf! Ask yourself, is this the plan of salvation in this age of grace? So how then can I logically pluck these baptism scriptures and make them mine today under grace. Furthermore, when this was written, Paul had not been converted yet where the preaching of the indwelling, sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit was revealed. Hopefully you can begin to see the relevant differences in the gospel's that were preached but applicable to different people according to how God was dealing with mankind at that time.
Continued in next column - See Water Baptism"
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Visit "Welcome to Grace" where Pastor / Teacher Curt Crist continues his "Journey Through the Bible" audio series. Visit Curt at www.welcometograce.com or click on the image below!
When I think of how a person is saved today do people believe that they have to take Jesus in their heart or complete salvation through water baptism? Do first have to commit their life to Christ? Although romantic sounding, none of the above has anything to do with taking God at His word as concerning all that Christ has done for us. Friends, He committed His life to us! I simply must believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, was buried and rose again taking sin off the table as far as God The Father was concerned. Christ then established justification or His righteousness to anyone who would believe (ref Romans 4:19-25)
So what relevance did water baptism have in the scriptures?
Remember, the issue we are discussing is not challenging the scripture, for the bible clearly says that water baptism is required. This issue at hand is its relevance today under the dispensation of grace. Nowhere in Paul's letters will you find him discussing water baptism as something that must be done. Not Romans 6 or the "One Baptism" of Ephesians 4! Years ago I told a pastor if these verses speak of water, then I must believe in a water-based, works oriented salvation! An outstanding verse to the relevance of water baptism can be found in the gospel of John. Here, the prophet was speaking under the dispensing of the law:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. - John 1:29-31
Friend, do we get baptized today to identify with Christ in His manifestation to Israel?? Of course not! Could it be that man has not correctly partitioned the bible in order to fully understand what God's instructions are today under His abundant grace? Is Christ's finished work at Calvary enough or do I need to validate that beyond simple belief in order to stir my emotions? Please search the scriptures yourself and rest in His completeness for water has no part in God's dispensing of grace!
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
This Issue's Topic:
How can we be faithful to our commission?
Pastor Vin Deseno
In Paul’s day, his “preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery” encountered opposition on every hand. For faithfully proclaiming the glorious message which had been committed to his trust, he was constantly made to bear affliction and reproach.
In one of his earlier epistles we already find a long list of the perils and persecutions he had by then been called upon to endure
(II Cor. 11:23-33) and this opposition, bitter and relentless, continued throughout his ministry. In his last letter, written from prison in Rome, he calls attention to the distinctive character of his message, and adds:
“Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds…” (II Tim. 2:7-9).
The almost constant suffering to which the apostle of grace was subjected naturally had its effect upon timid souls. Some, who saw the truth and the glory of his message, lacked the courage to stand with him in making it known. Others, who had started with him were tempted to — and some did — turn back. Of his first appearance before Nero, the Apostle had to say:
“At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: pray God that it may not be laid to their charge”(II Tim. 4:16).
In the light of all this it is not strange that Paul should write to Timothy:
“FOR GOD HATH NOT GIVEN US THE SPIRIT OF FEAR; BUT OF POWER, AND OF LOVE, AND OF A SOUND MIND.
“BE NOT THOU THEREFORE ASHAMED OF THE TESTIMONY OF OUR LORD, NOR OF ME HIS PRISONER; BUT BE THOU PARTAKER OF THE AFFLICTIONS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF GOD” (II Tim. 1:7,8).
Nor is it strange that in II Timothy 2:1-3 the apostle should urge his son in the faith to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” and to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” especially in the light of the fact that he himself needed constant help in this regard. The average Christian would find it hard to imagine Paul ever needing prayer for courage, yet he closes his Ephesian epistle with the request:
“And [pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, “For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19,20).
Oh, that all who have come to see the glory of the gospel of the grace of God would pray this prayer for boldness!
Some may suppose that it would require little boldness today to proclaim grace in all its purity. Who is ever persecuted now, at least in free, enlightened lands, for preaching God’s grace? Ah, but do not be deceived. Satan was no less active in his opposition to the truth when Constantine exalted the professing Church to prominence than when his predecessors persecuted the Church and sent its members to death by fire and sword. Indeed, the devil was doubtless more successful in Constantine’s day than he had been when persecution raged. And does any believer in the Word of God suppose that Satan has relented in his opposition to the truth today, just because men, at least in this land, are not burned at the stake or thrown to the lions? Do not be misled. Satan’s enmity against God and against His Word continues undiminished. His hatred of “the gospel of the grace of God,” is as bitter, and his opposition to it as determined, as it ever was. But well does he know that the constant discouragements connected with being in the minority often succeed in silencing those who would stand against physical persecution.
Let us, who know and love the truth, determine by God’s grace that nothing shall make us unfaithful to our glorious commission; that, whatever the cost, we shall faithfully and boldly proclaim to others the unadulterated gospel of the grace of God, “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery.”
Our Glorious Commission:
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Pastor Vin Deseno
II Cor.5:16-21 Our Great Commission
1348 Ocean Circle | Davenport, Florida 33897
Home: 863-420-9262 | Cell 856-364-9478 | firstname.lastname@example.org
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind. II Timothy 1:7