Friday, November 29, 2019

GUEST POST: The Bible Without Paul By Arthur J. Licursi

This is a sensitive post for me. This could indict me as a heretic because, frankly, I am very concerned by the absence of Pauline theology in today's preaching. Without Paul, Christians cannot simply be Christians. I invite criticism. Please refrain from ousting me as a heretic for now. No one wants that thrust upon them. However, please consider the following. What does salvation look like without Paul? Also consider 1st and 2nd Peter without Paul. So much of 1st Peter is Paul regurgitated. 2nd Peter affirms Paul as Scripture. That all said, read on with Berean eyes and a compassionate heart.

by Arthur J. Licursi


This study is based upon what sprang to mind as I later pondered what I heard of a message from  Casey Groeneveld. I also borrowed his title for it.

This study is based upon the supposition that the Apostle Paul and his writings could be removed from the Bible.

In this study we will consider what Biblical hope the Gentile has toward gaining an eternal saving relationship with God, …while leaving aside the writings of the Apostle Paul and “the dispensation of the grace of God” that came to the body of Christ through him.

I expect that this study will serve to show us the absolute crucial importance of God’s Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, with his calling and his unique gospel message for the Gentiles. Romans 11:13 For I (Paul) speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles…

Paul here tells us the Gentile situation that existed before Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God (Act 20:24)” was revealed and proclaimed by Paul

Ephes. 2:11-12 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

The first mentioning of the man who would later become the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, appears in Act 7:58.

Acts 7:58 And cast him (Stephen) out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Paul was there, at the stoning of Stephen, tending the clothes of those who executed  Stephen.

As a Jew, Saul of Tarsus later took his Greek name, Paul.

Viewing the Bible without the important information and unique gospel that comes to the body of Christ only through the Apostle Paul, will serve to clarify and heighten the importance of Paul’s “mystery gospel,” given to him by Jesus Christ for the Gentiles.

We will lay aside the account of Paul in the Book of The Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s fourteen Epistles. A survey of the Scriptures in this way will make it plain to see that…beginning with the time of the call of Abraham, the Gentiles have been and are “without hope and without God.”

Let’s Now REMOVE PAUL from the Bible

We will remove the rest of the book of Acts from Acts 7:58 (Stephen’s stoning) onward. The rest of Acts primarily is the account of Paul’s life and travels. This includes Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, the appearance of Christ to Paul, Paul’s many sufferings, Paul’s conflict with the law-keeping religion of the Messianic believing Jews in Jerusalem, and his powerful ministry toward the Gentiles. As he journeyed throughout the known world he preached his unique gospel of the pure grace of God, which was apart from the law and racial distinction. He received this gospel from the ascended Christ (Gal 1:12). Then also we will remove his fourteen epistles, Romans–Hebrews.

Let’s then see what we have remaining of the Scriptures that would possibly give hope for an eternal saving relationship of the Gentiles with God.

Now let’s begin our Bible survey.

As we review Bible history we will note that after about 2,000 years from Adam’s creation, man had become so wicked that God set all mankind aside, except for one man and his family, Abraham. God told that man, Abraham, that his seed or lineage would become a great nation through whom God would bless the whole world of mankind.

Genesis 12:2 And I will make of thee (Abraham) a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Genesis 18:18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations (heathen, Gentiles) of the earth shall be blessed in him.

God was to bless mankind with the call of Abraham and his seed. From the time of God calling of Abraham the rest of mankind was set aside from relationship with God. Mankind, other than Abraham’s seed, was to be called Gentiles, in distinction with Abraham and his seed. Later, Abraham’s seed was to be called Israel, named for Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Israel’s twelve sons are named among the 12 tribes of Israel.  Israel as a nation was intended to ultimately become God’s channel of blessing to the entire world, including the Gentiles.

From the call of Abraham onward, until salvation came to the Gentiles through Paul’s gospel, the Gentiles  were  “Gentiles in the flesh…having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph 2:11-12)”.

In the history of the Bible we have a 400-year period of silence from God. God, the prophets and writer of Scripture were silent from the time between late in the Old Testament, when God’s presence left the Jewish Temple, and the coming of Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of God.

Then the Messiah, Jesus, came to Israel, the children of Abraham. Jesus came in conjunction with the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and his seed, concerning a kingdom on earth. We must realize the coming of Jesus of Nazareth was first to and for Israel. Matthew 15:24 …I (Jesus) am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Jesus was on a mission from the Father. Jesus of Nazareth made it clear as to who He came with this good news that He is the King of the Kingdom that was to come to earth for Abraham’s seed – Israel, was now at hand. So, in the so-called four Gospels, we have the account of Jesus of Nazareth who came to Israel only (not to the Gentiles). Jesus proclaimed “the kingdom,” that had been long promised to Israel as Abraham’s seed, was now “at hand.” Matthew 4:17 … Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

We see no hope yet for the Gentiles toward gaining an eternal saving relationship with God.

Is John 3:16 the Hope of the Gentiles?

A key to proper Bible study and interpretation is that we must note to whom the words recorded are spoken and about whom these words concern. As students of the Bible we can learn and gain from ALL God-breathed Scripture, but not necessarily all that is written is about us or to us as Gentiles.

We’ve noted that the coming of Jesus was first to and for Israel only. Matthew 15:24 …I (Jesus) am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Jesus also instructed His disciples to do the same – to exclude the Gentiles.

Matt 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them… Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

We must view even the Christian’s most quoted John 3:16 as a verse within the Gospel account of what Jesus spoke to the Jews ONLY, when He came and announced that the Messianic Kingdom of heaven for the Jews was now at hand. The Messianic Kingdom was to come to the earth as had been promised to Abraham, as to be everlasting inheritance on earth. Nearly every word of Jesus in regard to His purpose was spoken to the Jews, and exclusive of the Gentiles, with only a few exceptions. (E.g. Samaritan women at the well, Pilate, etc.)

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Most Christians will say, “See, John 3:16 says whosoever believeth. That means everyone and anyone who believes can be saved”. But this simply is not true to the context of the Bible or the time in which Jesus was speaking. The first rule of Bible interpretation (hermeneutics) is to determine to whom the speaking party is speaking – Jesus was only speaking to the Jews. So long as there is a distinction between Jew and Gentile then “whosoever” does not apply to everyone. It is only for the “whosoever” of Israel.

(The only all-inclusive “whosoever” was to come later through Paul’s gospel is for both Jew and Gentile who make up the one body of Christ. This is the only Bible gospel that is without distinction by race.

Galatians 3:27-28 For as many of you as have been baptized (placed) into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  )

So far, we see “no hope” for the Gentiles who had been set aside with the call of Abraham.

Israel’s Pentecost

We may think that hope for the Gentiles would have come by Pentecost – But it was not to be. Read here what Peter said on the day of Pentecost – note who he was addressing. It was Israel.

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:

 Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Then, in Acts 6, we see Israel’s religious law-keepers stoning of Stephen to death. Stephen was one of the “little flock (Luke 12:32),” the Messianic believers in Jesus.

Acts 6:12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him (Stephen), and caught him, and brought him to the council,

Acts 7:51 Ye (Jews) stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Acts 7:54-59 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.

Stephen saw Jesus standing (not sitting) as though He was ready to return and bring the kingdom if the Nation would repent and receive Him. Yet, they rejected Jesus again.

This account is Israel’s 3rd rejection of the Triune God, now by rejecting the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the triune Godhead.

Well then, so far, we still have “no hope” for the Gentiles – they remain set aside, having no relationship with God.

Some Important Bible History

Let’s reconsider the previous account of the stoning of Stephen along with some more facts concerning Gentiles on a historical basis, as they may relate to Israel.

In the time of Old Testament Israel a Gentile could become a Jew, a proselyte, by…

-        taking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

-        circumcision, and

-        keeping the law.

In order to keep the law a Gentile needed the Priesthood and the Temple worship with its sacrifices that God had prescribed through Moses.

Let’s now see what has happened to Israel’s Temple and the Priesthood of God.

Before the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, all the Scripture writings of God were written in Hebrew. After that time, due to the conquering of Palestine by Alexander the Great, it was made a law that Greek would be the only language to be used. Thus, the New Testament writings are in Greek.

-        Before the time when Jesus came, Israel had already rejected God by killing the prophets of the Old Testament.

-        Now they rejected the Son of God by crucifying Him.

-        Then they rejected the Holy Spirit by stoning Stephen.

With this rejection of God; Israel as a nation, then made a final rejection of God in Acts 28:28. This occurred sometime between AD68-70. It is no accident that Herod’s Temple for the Jews in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD, along with the Jewish Priesthood.

Judaism then, essentially, had become a dead religion. Israel then lacked the accoutrements that were critical to their structured relationship with and worship of God.

Therefore, no Gentile could proselyte in order to become a Jew in that way after that time.

Let’s now proceed with our survey of The Bible Without Paul, still looking for a way of salvation for the Gentiles.

Something of Note - from Paul:

Let’s consider this installment as a parenthesis in our study.

I realize our premise is that Paul’ writings are set aside in our Bible without Paul. But here it would be good to understand the sequence of the events in the Bible that lead to Paul coming on the scene.

Paul was briefly introduced with the earlier referenced Acts 6 account of the stoning of Stephen, “a man full of the Holy Spirit,” as the third rejection of God, God now sets Israel aside.

God then set aside the Jews with the Stoning of Stephen, as He had set aside the Gentiles at the time of the call of Abraham. So then both the Jews and Gentile were set aside. This is what Paul refers to when he says “there are none righteous, no not one (Rom 3:10).”

This all is in preparation for God to do an entirely new thing with a new gospel through a new messenger who would reveal the depths of the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation, suffering, dying, resurrection and ascension.

With the setting aside of both Gentile and Jew, God was now to do something that had been “hid in God” (Eph 3:9) and eternally “purposed in Christ Jesus” (Eph 3:11), while it was “kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25). This SECRET PLAN OF God was not made known to any of the Bibles prophets, patriarchs or writers, until it was first revealed to the Apostle Paul.

This new relationship and gospel for man was to be built upon “grace by faith, without works.” It began in Chapter 9 of Acts with the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. There we see the ascended Christ come down from heaven to appear to Saul of Tarsus, saving him and gave Him this brand new gospel message for the Gentiles and some believing Jews (Gal 3:28), who both had been previously set aside.

They both now stand without distinction – no more as Jew or as Gentile – all are one in “the body of Christ”.

The Israel as a nation, remains set aside. Paul tells us what has happened to the nation Israel. He reveals when God will restore Israel to the Kingdom on earth, which had been long promised to Abraham and his seed.

Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

But, since we have taken Paul out of the Bible, we must skip these understandings that come only from Paul. So, we will continue on to see if there still is a hope for the Gentiles, apart from Paul’s new pure grace gospel.

So, if we skip Paul, things at this point, with the stoning of Stephen, still appear hopeless for the Gentiles toward gaining an eternal saving relationship with God.

But, let’s now go on in the Bible to find hope for the Gentiles.

Remember now, we have a Bible without Paul, so we must skip all Paul’s writings and references to Paul. So, the next writings we will note in the canon of Scripture are James’ epistle, Peter’s Epistles, and John’s Epistles.

These books are also written to… “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” not the Gentiles. These disciples were under Jesus’ admonition to “go not in the way of the Gentiles, but rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Most Bible Scholars agree that these books are addressed to the Israel as the Diaspora, the scattered of Israel – called the Jews, and also called the 12 tribes of Israel. Here is an example.

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Well then, still, we see no hope here for the Gentiles.

Now, as we continue our search for “hope for the Gentiles,” we come to the very last book of the Bible the Book of Revelation.

BUT WAIT, look at what it takes for Gentiles to be saved.

This Scripture is describing the Tribulation period, where “a third part” of all mankind will die (Rev 9:18). All” means even a third part of believing Israel will die. Only a remnant will be saved to live on, into the Millennium.

In Rev 7:4 we see 144,000 Jewish evangelists. Rev. 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. We note that there are people “of all nations” who will be saved through the message of these Messianic Jewish evangelists. That means Gentiles will be saved to the gospel that these Jewish Messianic evangelists preach.

Note below, those who are standing before God are “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” – including Gentiles. Rev. 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

The grace gospel dispensation had passed, the rapture had occurred already, so the only message they could be saved by was the Jewish gospel of the Messianic Kingdom to come to earth, with its laws. It is the power of salvation for all the nations at that time. In this way Israel finally is a blessing to all nations as God had promised Abraham. All they need to do was believe and hold to their testimony. Many believed and died for their testimony, but …they did make it to the Lord’s presence in heaven.

Rev. 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

Rev. 7:14 ... These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

For Gentiles to be saved with no Pauline Scripture message of grace, they will have to become converted to Judaism, hold to their testimony and likely be slain to have a saved relationship with God. Anyone who takes the mark of the beast will not be slaughtered, but those who do NOT take the mark of the beast will be killed.

Rev. 13:16-17 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Therefore, Gentiles, as men of all nations who are alive at that time will have a way to be saved apart from Paul’s “dispensation of the grace of God.” 1) They must become converted to Messianic Judaism 2) keep the commandments 3) They must not take the mark of the beast 4) Keep their testimony. Many will die.

Rev. 14:12-13 Here is the patience (endurance) of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 13And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Now we have seen what it will require for a Gentile to be saved when we look at The Bible Without Paul.
With Judaism as a dead religion since it was set aside nobody is saved by Judaism, And, without the grace gospel that came by Paul, Gentiles would have to

-        endure the Tribulation, at least for a time

-        believe the Messianic Kingdom gospel message of the 144,000 Jewish evangelist

-        keep the commandments

-        and likely be martyred

Then a Gentiles would become as a Jew, saved in the Messianic Kingdom on earth!

Wouldn’t it be a more wonderful way for us Gentiles to simply receive Paul’s gospel message of God’s love now, given in the person of the crucified and resurrected Christ, as the foundation of salvation that was laid by the Apostle Paul.

1 Cor. 3:10-11 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I (Paul) have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Let’s take heed to Paul’s unique gospel of “Christ” seeing Him “according to the revelation of “the mystery” that had been “kept secret since the world began (Rom 16:25b)?”

Romans 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery (musterion, the secret gospel that only God can reveal), which was kept secret since the world began.

Apart from Paul’s writings, we miss out on the riches that belong to “the Church, which is His body,” which is neither “Jew nor Gentile” (Gal 3:28). Only Paul reveals the church (ekklesia, “the assembly) that he calls “the church, which is his body” - “the body of Christ.”  Paul prays (Eph 1:15-18) that we might know the riches of Christ that are in the Saints, by virtue of “the mystery” revealed first to the Apostle Paul – “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27b)”
Let’s note the doctrines and truths that are unique to Paul’s gospel.

The “Dispensation of the Grace of God”
Ephes. 3:1-4 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
“The Mystery” or The Secret Plan of God that has been hid since the world began
Ephes. 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

Col. 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Salvation by grace through faith, apart from works
Ephes. 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Reconciliation of man with God
Col. 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

The Baptism BY the Holy Spirit for the body of Christ (Not in the Holy Spirit)
1 Cor. 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized (placed) into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

“The Church, which is the Body of Christ”
Ephes. 1:22-23 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

The Rapture of the Church
1 Thes. 4:15-17 ... by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Present Location of Paradise
2 Cor. 12:4 How that he (Paul) was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.         

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

GUES POST: "Without Paul" by Justin Johnson of Grace Ambassadors

By Justin Johnson
The popular saying is, “you don’t know what you have ‘til it’s gone.” For too long the Lord’s special revelation to Paul has received second or [third-hand] treatment to the ‘red letters’ and prophecy.
I propose an experiment in the spirit of Dickens’ Christmas ghosts. Let’s pretend Paul was never saved on the road to Damascus. What would happen to the church if Paul was never given his revelation of the mystery from the Lord?
Temporarily remove Paul’s epistles from the Bible. There are thirteen books from Romans to Philemon. Take them all out. You will also need to take out Paul’s ministry in the book of Acts also. Acts nine and onward should be removed as well.
Now, let’s draw an adequate picture of what remains.
Church without Paul
Without Paul, the last testimony from the church we see is the church in the temple from Acts 2-5. This group is led by Peter and the other eleven apostles.
They are continuing with the Lord’s commissions in Mark 16, Mat 28, Luke 24, and John 20. Accompanying their ministry are extraordinary powers which the Holy Ghost utilizes for signs of the coming kingdom (Mark 16:17).
Jesus had instructed the apostles in the end of his ministry to remain in Jerusalem until they received the word, then go to Judea, and Samaria, and so on. By Acts 8 the church was scattered except for the apostles who were obedient to these instructions (Acts 8:1).
In Peter’s footsteps the message we teach is that these are ‘the last days’, ‘repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins’, and the only preaching of the cross is that it was a horrible murder (Acts 2:1738, and Acts 5:30).
We would need to follow the Lord’s instructions, and the apostles’ example, by selling all that we have and have all things in common (Luke 12:33Acts 2:45Acts 4:34).
Salvation would be of the Jews (John 4:22), and we would be taking part in ushering in the kingdom which will be [awaiting] the Lord’s return to Israel (Acts 1:6Isa 2:2-4).
You would not understand the cross (Luke 18:34), and you would offer faith in Jesus the Messiah and the works of the law for justification (James 2:24). What you would never do is go in unto a Gentile’s house who was not a devout observer of the law (Acts 10:28).
Of course, since it has been nearly 2000 years since Peter first uttered the ‘last days’ claim, it may be time for a reassessment of the entire Jewish kingdom prophetic program. Perhaps, God’s promises have come to naught (Rom 9:6)?
Paul’s Writings Alone
Isn’t it strange how close ministry without Paul describes the modern church who has not given place to Paul’s office (Rom 11:13)?
Without Paul’s writings, you will not be able to prove the most basic doctrines, including:
– Salvation by grace through faith
– Justification apart from the law
– Full atonement of your sins through the death and resurrection
– A church body of both Jew and Gentile
– The fall of Israel and God’s prophetic silence for nearly 2000 years
– A heavenly position in Christ
As Scofield said so well nearly a century ago, “in [Paul’s] writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.” Removing Paul’s writings makes this truth a stark reality.
How little we appreciate the message Jesus gave to Paul to dispense, and the pattern we have for ministry in the Apostle Paul’s writings (1 Cor 9:171 Tim 1:16). It is about time the church obeyed Jesus’ instructions to “follow Paul” (1 Cor 4:16).

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Way Connection Group. 1 Peter 4:1-8

Name: Jeff Sandberg
Class:  The Way Connection Group     Topic:  1 Peter 4:1-8
Date:   11/23/2019
Col. 3:3-5
Matthew 7:21
Titus 3:3-7
Eccl. 12:14
Last week, we unpacked the greatest “work” a Christian can do. Peter reminds his readers, “[It] is better, if it is the will of God, that you suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” The good he spoke of? “[Giving] an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and reverence.” The example that Christ gives us suffering in order that He might bring us back to God.

This week, we focus in on 1 Peter 4:1-8. As Christ suffered as a human for our sakes, we are to prepare our minds as Peter tells us in chapter 3. Christian suffering first begins with a willingness to cease from sin. We are not to live in that world any longer. Peter says we’ve wasted enough time in our former life pleasing others like us in our depraved state. Because of this, when sinful man turns from sin to serve their living Savior, Gentiles think it odd and even go so far as to persecute and even act out violently against us. Our great hope in this is that, one day, all will see the truth. They, Peter states, “will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” In light of this revelation, that’s why we preach the Gospel of the Grace of God so they might “live according to the Spirit.” To that end, may we be alert, looking for opportunities as we approach the throne of God in prayer. 
1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind, because, he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
1 Peter 3:18. Once for sins…
Arm…same mind. Phil. 2:5. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” “We have the mind of Christ.” Eph. 6:13-17. 17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
He who suffered…ceased from sin. Romans 6:7. “For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
Col. 3:3-5 [READER]. 4 “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
He no longer lives in the flesh, but now (LIVES) for the will of God, as if he never did. This is interesting. Did Christ ever “live…in the flesh for the lusts of men?” This sounds more like Peter’s recounting of Lot’s life in 2 Peter. 2 Peter 2:7-8. 7 “who was oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (because, that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds).”
Others suggest, like Spurgeon and MacArthur, that this passage is really not about as much about Jesus as it is about our response, that “we” no longer should live the rest of “our” time in the flesh…but for the will of God.
Matthew 7:21 [READER]. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven."
3 Because, we spent enough of our former life in doing the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lustfulness, desires, drunkenness, partying, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries,
Acts 17:30. “And, these times of such ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,”

Romans 8:12-13. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. Because, if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Titus 3:3-7 [READER]. “Because, we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
4 in concerning these things they think it is strange that you do not run with them in the same excessive wastefulness, speaking evil of you,
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Father, please give us desires to please you and not ourselves. Let us not be like those spoken of in 2 Peter 2:22 - “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

Spurgeon adds, “How strange this world is! It speaks evil of men because they will not do evil. Yet it has always been so. Those of whom “the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38) have been the people of whom the worldly have said, “it is not fit that he should live”(Acts 22:22). The world’s verdict concerning Christians is of little value.”

Speaking evil. We certainly see this with the apostle Paul in Acts 13:45 and 18:6.

So, are the holiness movements more right than wrong? You must yourselves be convinced. Peter seems to think we’ve spent enough time walking in those ways. As the great theologian Carlos Santana once said, “You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby!”

Paul makes clear in Ephesians 4 after spending 3 chapters reminding the believers at Ephesus of the grace found in Jesus to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.” He uses several action words to describe our walk. “Walk worthy,” lowly and meek, “bearing with one another,” endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit. So, grace is not a gurney where we passively allow things to happen. We who believe have been given God’s Holy Spirit to put love into action.
5 who will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
2 Corinthians 5:10. “Because, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad.”

Matt. 12:36. “But I say to you that every idle word that men will speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

Jude 1:14-15. “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied about these men, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly manner, and of all their harsh words which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."”

Eccl. 12:14 [READER]. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
6 Because, for this reason was the gospel also preached to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
So, the Bible interprets itself, eh? Once again, just let the Bible speak. “Jesus preached to those who are dead that they might live according to God in the spirit.” So, it IS talking about dead old-testament saints who just had no clue.

1 Corinthians 11:31-32. In speaking of eating the Lord’s supper unworthily, Paul writes, “Because if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” Who is Paul talking to? Christians! Believers! Though I don’t like discipline, the loving but firm discipline of my heavenly Father goes a long way to further me along in my walk towards holiness in Christ.

Dr. MacArthur notes, “The preaching of the gospel not only offers a rich life (3:10), a ceasing from sin (4:1), and a good conscience (3:21), but also an escape from final judgment. Peter had in mind believers who had heard and accepted the gospel of Christ when they were still alive, but who had died by the time Peter wrote this letter. Some of them, perhaps, had been martyred for their faith. Though these were dead physically, they were triumphantly alive in their spirits (cf. Heb. 12:23 ). All their judgment had been fully accomplished while they were alive in this world (“in the flesh”), so they will live forever in God’s presence.

To those who have responded to the Gospel (and I’m defining responding to the Gospel as confessing faith, as opposed to rejecting the gospel, which, I suppose, is a response of sorts…), Romans 8:2 applies: Because, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

However, according to Ray Comfort in his sermon, Hell’s Best Kept Secret :(READ BELOW)
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober and watchful in prayer.
Do you hear, both, the apostle Paul’s and Ray Comfort’s urgency for Biblically-evangelism? In other words, evangelism at all, AND evangelism that’s steeped in Scripture? Jesus is coming back. Therefore, be alert and seek opportunities in prayer. Oh, Father, help me to take the opportunity by the horns to reach the lost with the good news of Jesus!
8 And above all things have fervent love among yourselves, because "love will cover the multitude of sins."
Then, taking another note from Paul in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith,” Peter says ABOVE ALL THINGS. He uses phrases like this frequently. 

How many times do we hear in 2 Peter, “Knowing this first…”? Having the same mind, we are to love and worship our creator God, and have fervent love among ourselves. Fervent is an adjective that literally means “to be hot, to boil, or to glow.” Webster’s 1828 dictionary properly defines it as “Ardent; very warm; earnest; excited; animated; glowing; as fervent zeal; fervent piety. Fervent in spirit.”

Webster even links Romans 12 (verses 10-13). 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
SUMMARY:  Write 4 or more statements describing specific learning from these notes.
  1. As Christ suffered, we are to prepare our minds to suffer in like fashion.
  2. We will suffer because of our separation from the world’s lusts, desires, and “abominable idolatries.”
  3. Unbelievers will simply not understand our stance and even speak evil of us.
  4. We are not called to live in the gurney of licentious grace, but to hike the path of holiness by His grace.
  5. We are also called to lovingly, urgently, and fervently share the good news of the gospel with the lost.

[The] tragedy of modern evangelism is because around the turn of the century when it forsook the law in its capacity to convert the soul, to drive sinners to Christ, modern evangelism had to, therefore, find another reason for sinners to respond to the gospel. And the issue that modern evangelism chose to attract sinners was the issue of “life enhancement”. The gospel degenerated into “Jesus Christ will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” Now to illustrate the unscriptural nature of this very popular teaching, I’d like you to listen very carefully to this following anecdote, because the essence of what I’m saying pivots on this particular illustration; so please listen carefully.

Two men are seated in a plane. The first is given a parachute and told to put is on as it would improve his flight. He’s a little skeptical at first because he can’t see how wearing a parachute in a plane could possibly improve the flight. After a time he decides to experiment and see if the claim is true. As he puts it on he notices the weight of it upon his shoulders and he finds that he has difficulty in sitting upright. However, he consoles himself with the fact that he was told the parachute would improve the flight. So, he decides to give the thing a little time. As he waits he notices that some of the other passengers are laughing at him, because he’s wearing a parachute in a plane. He begins to feel somewhat humiliated. As they begin to point and laugh at him and he can stand it no longer, he slinks in his seat, unstraps the parachute, and throws it to the floor. Disillusionment and bitterness fill his heart, because, as far as he was concerned, he was told an outright lie. The second man is given a parachute, but listen to what he’s told. He’s told to put it on because at any moment he’d be jumping 25,000 feet out of the plane. He gratefully puts the parachute on; he doesn’t notice the weight of it upon his shoulders, nor that he can’t sit upright. His mind is consumed with the thought of what would happen to him if he jumped without that parachute.

Let’s analyze the motive and the result of each passenger’s experience. The first man’s motive for putting the parachute on was solely to improve his flight. The result of his experience was that he was humiliated by the passengers; he was disillusioned and somewhat embittered against those who gave him the parachute. As far as he’s concerned it’ll be a long time before anyone gets one of those things on his back again. The second man put the parachute on solely to escape the jump to come, and because of his knowledge of what would happen to him without it, he has a deep-rooted joy and peace in his heart knowing that he’s saved from sure death. This knowledge gives him the ability to withstand the mockery of the other passengers. His attitude towards those who gave him the parachute is one of heart-felt gratitude. 

Now listen to what the modern gospel says. It says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you love, joy, peace, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” In other words, “Jesus will improve your flight.” So the sinner responds, and in an experimental fashion, puts on the Savior to see if the claims are true. And what does he get? The promised temptation, tribulation, and persecution. The other passengers mock him. So what does he do? He takes off the Lord Jesus Christ, he’s offended for the word’s sake (Mark 4:17), he’s disillusioned and somewhat embittered, and quite rightly so. He was promised peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness, and all he got were trials and humiliation. His bitterness is directed toward those who gave him the so-called “good news”. His latter end becomes worse than the first: another inoculated and bitter backslider.

Saints, instead of preaching that Jesus improves the flight, we should be warning the passengers they’re going have to jump out of the plane. That it’s “appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). And when a sinner understands the horrific consequences of breaking God’s law, then he will flee to the Savior solely to escape the wrath that’s to come. And if we’re true and faithful witnesses, that’s what we’ll be preaching. That there is wrath to come; that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Why? “Because He has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (vs. 31). You see, the issue isn’t one of happiness, but one of righteousness. It doesn’t matter how happy a sinner is, how much he’s enjoying “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25). Without the righteousness of Christ, he’ll perish on the day of wrath. “Riches profit not on the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Prov. 11:4). Peace and joy are legitimate fruits of salvation, but it’s not legitimate to use these fruits as a draw card for salvation. If we continue to do so, sinners will respond with an impure motive lacking repentance.

Now, can you remember why the second passenger had joy and peace in his heart? It was because he knew that parachute was going to save him from sure death. And as a believer, I have, as Paul says, “joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13), because I know that the righteousness of Christ is going to deliver me from the wrath that’s to come.

Now with that thought in mind, let’s take a close look at an incident on board the plane. We have a brand new stewardess. She’s carrying a tray of boiling hot coffee. It’s her first day; she wants to leave an impression on the passengers, and she certainly does. Because as she’s walking down the aisle, she trips over someone’s foot and slops that boiling hot coffee all over the lap of our second passenger. Now what’s his reaction as that boiling liquid hits his tender flesh? Does he go, “Ssssfffff! Man that hurt”? Mmm-hhh. He feels the pain. But then does he rip the parachute from his shoulders, throw it to the floor and say, “The stupid parachute!”? No. Why should he? He didn’t put the parachute on for a better flight. He put it on to save him from the jump to come. If anything, the hot coffee incident causes him to cling tighter to the parachute and even look forward to the jump.

Now if you and I have put on the Lord Jesus Christ for the right motive, to flee from the wrath that’s to come, when tribulation strikes, when the flight gets bumpy, we won’t get angry at God; we won’t lose our joy and peace. Why should we? We didn’t come to Jesus for a happy lifestyle: we came to flee from the wrath that’s to come. And if anything, tribulation drives the true believer closer to the Savior. And sadly we have literally multitudes of professing Christians who lose their joy and peace when the flight gets bumpy. Why? They’re the product of a man-centered gospel. They came lacking repentance, without which you can’t be saved. 

excerpt from "Hell's Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort