I received the following question:

Nathan, will you please explain to me your views on water baptism? Thanks.

Thanks for the question regarding water baptism. I will try to answer as briefly as I can, and as clearly as I can. Yet this is a complicated issue, and the answer is not simple.

The fact is that the word “baptism” is basically a Greek word that has not been translated when bringing it into English. Whatever our English ideas about baptism might be, the real question is what the idea of baptism was to one who spoke Greek? To answer this, we would need to consider the use of the Greek word baptisma, and its related verb baptizo. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

I am having a difficult time understanding Romans 8:19-21.  I understand Paul is writing to those exiled Israelites in Rome.  What I am confused about is where Paul speaks about the creation waiting for the manifestation (revealing?) of the sons of God.  Also, in v.21 where it speaks of the creation being delivered into the glorious liberty (glorified state with liberty as a characteristic?) of the children of God.

Who are the sons (huios) of God in v.19 and who are the children ((teknon) of God in v. 21 and how and why would the creation (ktiseos) anxiously expect them?

Any help you can give would be appreciated very much.

The passage in question starts out talking about those who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (verse 1). These, in the Acts period, were set free from the law of sin and death (verses 2-11). This extended to their minds being absorbed in the things of the Spirit. Their life came from the Spirit, and this resulted in them being sons of God, that is, those who represented His character, as well as representing Him in their actions. They were God’s children, as verses 16-17 make clear. Read the rest of this entry »

We discussed in our last message that, even though we call two events Christ’s “first coming” and His “second coming” or return, these are not the only times Christ has actually appeared on earth. In the same way, when we speak of the “return of the Holy Spirit,” we do not mean to imply that the Spirit has only been sent twice, or even that He is not active on earth now. The fact is that the Holy Spirit has been active upon earth since the very beginning. The first time we read of the Spirit is in Genesis 1:2.

2. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

In the first appearance of the Holy Spirit in Scripture, He brought light to the world. Bringing light is one of the Spirit’s activities, and one of the reasons for which God sends Him. This brings us to an important principle about the Holy Spirit that we need to learn: when God sends Him, He always accomplishes exactly what God sent Him to accomplish, and nothing more nor less. Some people seem to have the idea that the Spirit always does the same thing when He comes upon people. Some think, for example, that when the Spirit comes upon anyone, that that person will always speak with tongues. Others think that when the Spirit comes, He will always make a person a flaming witness or a powerful speaker. Yet the Spirit can do many things when He comes upon people. He is not limited to only doing certain things. For a clear example of this, consider Exodus 31:1-5. Read the rest of this entry »

There is no doubt but that the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to this earth to be personally present for a thousand years is an extremely important and significant event in God’s future, prophetic calendar. This event is set forth most clearly in Scripture, and that it is a real, physical event is also clear. Acts 1:10-11, describing Christ’s ascension, makes this fact most clear.

10. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11. who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

In light of this most clear statement, all who claim to be Biblical should hold to and believe in the reality of the someday return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will yet come to earth just as He left it. If we truly believe the Scriptures, we cannot doubt this fact. Yet many make the return and second coming of Jesus Christ to be the central, if not the only, significant event in God’s future program. Moreover, they believe that His return is the event to usher in the Kingdom of God and bring all of God’s plans to fruition. Read the rest of this entry »

We have seen that in many ways, the Acts period in the New Testament was a foreshadowing of the full, Manifest Kingdom of God to come. Yet I do not believe that this reality of events in Scripture foreshadowing the Manifest Kingdom is limited only to the New Testament. In the Old Testament as well we see examples of not just clear statements about the kingdom, but also of events that foreshadow these same truths that will be a reality in that kingdom. Though the Old Testament did not have a “kingdom in part” period like Acts, the kingdom in Israel did foreshadow in some ways the Manifest Kingdom of God to come. One clear example of this is in the miracles of Elijah and Elisha. In the record of the ministry of these two prophets as it is recorded for us in the books of Kings, we see them performing miracles very similar to those of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, such as resurrecting a widow’s son, feeding a multitude, etc. There can be little doubt but that the miracles of the Lord Jesus were foreshadowings of the kingdom of God, so certainly these miracles of the two prophets were as well.

Yet if we wished to point to one specific time in the history of Israel in the Old Testament when the Manifest Kingdom of God was foreshadowed, I believe that time would be the Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon. During the reigns of these two kings over the nation, the Manifest Kingdom to come was foreshadowed in various ways. Read the rest of this entry »

We have been examining the fact that the Acts period foreshadows the kingdom of God in the miracles that were worked at that time. Many of these reflect various conditions that will prevail on earth during the coming kingdom. We have seen that the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Acts 3:1-10 foreshadows the healing and health that will be enjoyed by all in the kingdom of God, as we see in Isaiah 33:24 and 35:6. The shaking of the house in Acts 4:31, directing the apostles in how they were to act, foreshadows the direction God will give men in the kingdom in Isaiah 30:21. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira foreshadow the punishment that will fall upon evildoers in the kingdom in Psalm 101:5, 7-8. The release of the apostles from prison in Acts 5:19-20 foreshadows the setting of the prisoners free in Isaiah 42:1,7. The conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3-6 foreshadows the enlightenment of sinners in Psalm 25:8, 51:31, and 64:1-10. This brings us up-to-date to our current examination.

Next, the amazing story of the resurrection of Tabitha in Acts 9:36-42 foreshadows the Manifest Kingdom of God to come. Read the rest of this entry »

I received the following question:

What do you make of the mark of the beast, 666?

The mark of the beast is found in Revelation 13:17-18.

17. and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.

Most scholars are in agreement that this is referring to gematria, wherein in ancient days there was no separate set of symbols for numbers, and so each letter in the alphabet also had a numerical value. One example of this that we are aware of in modern times is Roman numerals. Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet had a corresponding number, and it seems that the letters, or at least the consonants, in the name of the beast add up to 666 by gematria. There is more than one name that could do this, however, so it is not really possible to identify in advance what that name will be. Read the rest of this entry »

litmatch02In our last message, we saw how the beginning of the Acts period foreshadowed the coming, manifest kingdom in many ways. Both start with a sound, both include signs of fire, both see God’s chosen representatives powerfully marked out for all to see, both involve the pouring out of the power of the Holy Spirit, and both break down barriers that exist between people in this world. Thus we saw that, in many ways, the beginning of the Acts period foreshadows the beginning of the kingdom of God.

Yet there are other ways besides how it started in which the Acts period foreshadows the future, manifest kingdom of God. One way is in the unity that existed during Acts, particularly during the earliest time when all believers were together in one large group. We read of this unity in Acts 2:44-45. Read the rest of this entry »

strikematch02In my message, “The Theme of the Bible,” I expressed the opinion that the kingdom of God is the theme of the Bible. The reality of God’s coming government on earth is the goal toward which God is working and the theme upon which all His works are hinged. Ecclesiastes 3:14 declares:

14. I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.

This verse does not tell us that whatever God does lasts forever. This cannot be, for we know that God’s dispensations and works with mankind change. For example, we know that God at one time put the man He created, Adam, in a garden in Eden and commanded him to tend and keep the garden. As long as he did not eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, he would live perpetually and enjoy the world God had given him. Yet Adam ate that fruit, so what God did in placing him in the garden did not last forever. Therefore, we can assuredly say that all things God does do not always last forever. What is this passage telling us, then? Read the rest of this entry »

definesin02I received the following question:

I have a question for you.  We have recently been studying/discussing the meaning and definition of “sin.”  Does the definition change between the Old Testament, the Gospel Period, the Acts period, and now in the Dispensation of Grace?

The definition I’ve been given is “missing the mark.”  Appropriate, but kind of vague.

My main question has to do with Christ Jesus.  It focuses on sin, particularly referring to II Corinthians 5:20 & 21  –  (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.  21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.)

Since Jesus “knew no sin”, it has been suggested that his only sin was the fact that he died.  Can the unavoidable reality of death be a sin?  I have a hard time accepting this concept.  I lean towards the belief that death is the consequence of the original sin, not a sin itself.

Good to hear from you! Very good question. I will answer as best I can. Read the rest of this entry »

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