Part 3: What Is Grace?

To the guilty far and wide God is offering “the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

What a wonderful message to proclaim! What a privilege to be able to tell sinners that “God was in Christ [at Calvary], reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (II Cor. 5:19). How glorious to whisper into the ears of the condemned that they may be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus!” (Rom. 3:24).

Do you believe these facts and rejoice in them?

This message was fully proclaimed by Paul, the apostle of grace, but was practically lost again for many centuries. Legalism, ritualism and superstition almost wholly obscured the wonderful message of salvation by grace, through faith alone. Thank God, it is being recovered again today. As the days grow darker the light of His Word shines brighter and men of God all over the world are rising to proclaim once more the mystery revealed to Paul—God’s purpose of grace for a lost, ruined world. Once again this blessed truth is commanding widespread attention.

Those who proclaim the gospel of the grace of God in its fulness may, of course, expect to have dealings with Satan, for Satan hates grace. He is bitterly opposed to the recovery of the mystery. See how relentlessly he opposed and persecuted the one to whom God first revealed it! But if Paul could “suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds” (II Tim. 2:9)—if he could willingly lay down his very life for the proclamation of this glorious message, surely we too should be willing to partake of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God (II Tim. 1:8).

It must not be supposed, however, that Satan always opposes the truth in the same way. If he cannot succeed as a roaring lion he will appear as an angel of light. He will suggest that surely a God of love would not condemn even Christ rejectors forever. Indeed, he will contend that sinners are not entirely responsible, for does not Ephesians 1:11 tell us that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will?” Therefore, it is argued, He will save them all.

A humble but balanced believer once said to me, “If Satan can’t keep you from accepting the message of grace, he’ll try to push you clear through!”

This is exactly what he is doing today. As the grace movement grows all over the world, Satan would supplant God’s gracious offer of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:20), with the unscriptural teaching of universal reconciliation—the delusion that all, without exception, will be saved. “This,” he says, “is grace—wonderful grace.”

But universal reconciliation would most assuredly NOT be grace. Indeed, it is Satan’s attempt to overthrow the whole doctrine of salvation by grace. This is done, not by denying the Scriptures, but by perverting them.


There are two significant phrases in Ephesians 2 which shed clear light upon the character, the nature, of grace. They are found in Verses 2 and 3, which speak of the unsaved as “children of disobedience” and “children of wrath.”

Meditate for a moment on these phrases: “children of DISOBEDIENCE”—”children of WRATH.”

It is against this dark, black background that we read further,

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved),

“And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).

According to these plain Scriptures grace is God’s mercy and kindness to the undeserving.


We can hardly appreciate the meaning of grace unless we recognize the guilt of man and the wrath of God upon sin.

Because Ephesians 1:11 states that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” it is supposed by some that there may be some excuse of the sinner. This verse and others like it are frequently used to relieve man of his responsibility before God.

The Universal Reconciliationists use this as a basis for their arguments that all will be saved. They argue that man is simply manipulated by God, though they are careful to avoid stating it so plainly. The free will of man is called a “phantom” since everything, even sin, is the outworking of God’s will. Sin, they say, was brought in by God so that we might know the joy of salvation. And, it is argued, since sin had its origin with God it is only just that He should save all men from it.

But if this is true, then—God is the only sinner in the universe! Then all the vile, horrible sins that blot the pages of history and the more monstrous ones which even base historians could not record for very shame—all these outrages have been acts of God, who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.

Furthermore, why should He charge me with sin when all the cruelty and injustice, all the adultery and unfaithfulness, all the envy and murder came not from my heart, but from His? How unjust to condemn me when all these things are the products of His will and I have no will in the matter!

Such conclusions are most shocking to the spiritual mind. Who could trust in such a God?—a God who actually conceives and produces the vilest sins in His creatures so that they may learn to praise Him for delivering them from them!

We are well aware that Universalist literature does not state the matter so plainly but let no Universalist deny that this is the inevitable conclusion, if not the obvious interpretation of their teachings.

Thank God, not all who accept Universal Reconciliation do so intelligently, but we warn sincere believers lest they fall for this perversion of the Scriptures and so dishonor God. It is an old heresy which Satan has revived in an attempt to shift the blame of sin from the creature to the Creator. It is Modernism in another cloak. It is called grace, but it is surely not the grace of God as taught in the Bible, for grace is God’s mercy and kindness to the guilty—the blameworthy.


Who would have thought that a wonderful teaching that everyone will be saved could make God the only sinner in the universe? Yet that is the inescapable conclusion at which a sincere Universalist must arrive. Such heresies come from trying to subject divine revelation to human reason.

It is argued that if God works all things after the counsel of His own will it must necessarily follow that man does not have a free will of His own. But that is placing reason above revelation. They forget that, as someone has said, “The opposite of one truth is not necessarily an untruth. It may be another truth.”

To the contention that the term “free will of man” is not found in the Bible, we reply that neither is the term “sovereign will of God” found in the Bible, but both doctrines are clearly taught there, and it is the part of faith to bow before that blessed Book. Reason with men out of the Scriptures as Paul did (Acts 17:2), but do not try to reduce the Scriptures to human reason or you will rob your message of all its vitality.

How can we reconcile, in our little minds, the humanity of Christ with His deity, or the human and divine in the Bible, or the fact that God is three Persons yet indivisibly One, or the constant change in creation with its fixed changelessness? We cannot explain or perhaps even understand these paradoxes, yet they are facts, and strangely, these opposites are like the negative and positive currents in electricity. They make the Book throb with life and power. But try to explain one or the other of these opposites away and the Book is no longer the living and powerful Word of God.

Of course we believe Ephesians 1:11. God is working all things after the counsel of His own will. But to use this verse to deny the free will of man would be as unscriptural as to use Mark 3:35 to deny the sovereign will of God. There the Lord Himself said, “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

If man is not free to exercise his will, obviously he cannot be charged with disobedience, for even in his sin he is obeying God’s will. If the maker of a machine presses a button and sets it in operation, that machine, having no will of its own, obeys its maker’s will. The shuttles which fly backward obey him as well as the shuttles which fly forward. If the machine fails him that is his fault. It cannot disobey him for it has no will of its own.

If this is man’s position, what does God mean by “children of disobedience,” and what reason would He have to be angry with man? Why should the unsaved be called “children of wrath?”

But man has a free will. He is responsible. He has been disobedient. Lest any should deny this God gave the law “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Rom. 3:19).

Ephesians 1:11 should be read in connection with Psalms 76:10, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.” Man’s will is free but God’s will is sovereign. In the final analysis His will is done. Even a wise employer will use the blunders and wrongs of his employees to advantage. Will not God?


There is an important fact here which has generally been overlooked. The word children implies parents. Even when it is not used concerning blood relatives it still implies parents.

Those who speak of God bringing sin and death into the world should remember that Romans 5:12 says that “by ONE MAN sin entered into the world and death by sin.” Now, Paul prays that believers might have the spiritual perception to appreciate and appropriate their oneness with Christ. That fact, though blessedly true, is not easy for us in our present condition to grasp. But there is one truth which should be very easy for us to grasp—our oneness, as human beings, with Adam. As a human being I am as much a part of Adam as my finger is of my body. I am branch of Adam. I came from him. I was in him. When he sinned I sinned. When he fell, I fell. I have not just sinned in the last few years. I have not just recently become guilty. I sinned in Adam. I am part of Adam. I was born guilty (not unfortunate, but guilty). My sinful nature is not an accident, something that recently came into being—it is the nature of Adam.

Thank God, it is a wonderful fact that “I am crucified with Christ.” I have been baptized into His death and resurrection. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature” (II Cor. 5:17). But “the flesh” is part of Adam and has the sentence of death upon it.

Some years ago, speaking of a poor drunkard, a friend said to me, “But how can you blame him? Just look at his parents,” “Yes,” I said, “But you should have known their parents!” Of course, I was merely trying to point out the fact that it all goes back to one man. But that does not relieve man of his responsibility and guilt; it establishes and emphasizes it. If in Christ I am a new creation, a member of His flesh and of His bones (Eph. 5:30), then it is even more apparent that in myself I am a member of Adam, of his flesh and of his bones. My sin and guilt dates back to Adam.


But there is another remarkable fact which we ought to notice—a fact which does not appear on the surface of these verses in Ephesians 2. The word for children in Verse 2 is different from that used in Verse 3. The word for children in Verse 3 is “teknon” which means simply “born one.” We have no word for it in the English, but the Scotch have a word—it is “bairn.” Now God says in Verse 3 that we were by nature the “bairns of wrath.” But the word in Verse 2 is “huios” which means a “grown son.” This immediately suggests understanding and responsibility. Note that this word is used in reference to man’s disobedience. Where human disobedience is concerned men are called “grown sons.” God will leave us no excuse. He says “You knew what you were doing.” “You were disobedient.” “You are responsible.”

Have you ever noticed the construction of Romans 5:12? “By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and so,”—So what? We would expect it to go on “And so death passed upon all men by one man’s sin.” But it ends quite differently: “And so death passed upon all men for that [because] all have sinned.” After telling us that by one man sin entered into the world, he places the guilt directly upon the children as well as the parent because all have sinned! Do you see it? They all sinned in him. They all sinned out of him. Collectively and individually all are sinners. There is no escape! We regret that some Universal Reconciliationists have tampered with this verse to make it fit their theories.

Is it not a fact that when it comes to disobedience, we are grown sons? We knew what we were doing. God emphasizes this fact, for we must see our guilt before He can reveal His grace.

Romans 5:12 reminds us that in all essential particulars the fall of Adam has been re-enacted in every human life. We show that we are from Adam because we are all individual Adams. Just as in Adam’s case there was the violation of the known will of God. This violation wrought to separate us from God. Then came the vain attempt at self-justification! This is why Ephesians 2:2 calls unbelievers “grown sons of disobedience.”

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The Spirit Within

(From a message given October 9th, 2003, at the Fall Conference of the Berean Bible Fellowship in Evansville, Indiana).

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (I Cor. 6:19).

It is the teaching of this verse of Scripture that the physical body of each individual believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is the temple of Almighty God, who dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Just think for a moment of the magnitude of this doctrine! The God who declares, “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool” (Acts 7:49) dwells in you. This God of unimaginable greatness, this God of infinite proportions resides within the confines of your finite being.

And He dwells in every believer regardless of conduct! It is significant that God picked the carnal Corinthians to receive the clearest declaration of the indwelling of His Spirit. Thus we know that the indwelling Spirit is not a reward for good behavior, but rather a blessing of which we should always try to walk worthy (I Cor. 6:20).

Note that Paul does not say that your body is the tabernacle of the Spirit, for the tabernacle was only the temporary dwelling place of God. Rather he affirms that your body is the temple of the Spirit, signifying God’s intent to dwell in you permanently.

Some would object that our text refers not to the personal indwelling of each individual saint, but rather to the corporate indwelling of the Body of Christ as a whole. However, the context here, both before and after, deals with our individual physical bodies (I Cor. 6:15-18; 7:1-4). That being said, it is true that the Spirit also indwells the Body as a whole. I Corinthians 3:16 says:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

Here the context is the Body of Christ in general. Paul says that “ye are the temple of God,” and the previous “ye” in this passage refers to the Corinthians collectively (v. 9). This corporate indwelling is more clearly set forth in Ephesians 2:21:

“In whom [Christ] ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

God dwells in us corporately as well as individually to impress upon us that no believer is an island unto himself, and that every believer is part of a larger building in which the Spirit also dwells. This larger building is “the church which is His Body” (Eph. 1:22,23) and manifests itself in the local church. Paul told Timothy that the purpose of his letter to him was…

“…that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God…” (I Tim. 3:15).

Here Paul speaks about Timothy’s behavior in the local church, which he calls “the house of God.” Thus we know that the Spirit of God indwells each local church in a collective sense. This is interesting, since the first Bible reference to “the house of God” is found in Genesis 28, where Jacob dreamed and saw…

“…a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it” (v. 12).

When he realized that these angels were ascending and descending to receive orders from God and then carry them out, Jacob concluded that that location was the command post of God on earth, and he exclaimed, “this is none other but the house of God” (v. 17). Today, however, God’s bidding is not done on earth by angels but by members of the Body, and the local church is God’s command post. We gather together in the house of God to hear God’s Word taught, thereby receiving orders from Him, and then we leave to carry those orders out.

Speaking of this collective dwelling place of God, Paul says:

“…all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21).

Paul states clearly that the corporate dwelling place of God is growing, and a glance at the Greek text tells us how. The Greek word for “fitly framed together” is sunarmologeo, a compound word meaning “with joint speech.” Thus Paul is saying that the Body of Christ “groweth” only when we all say the same thing—and not just any thing. The Body grows only when our speech joins with what Paul said. It grows numerically only when the pure gospel of the grace of God is preached, and we “grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15) only when Pauline doctrine is taught.

But we mustn’t leave I Corinthians 3:16 without commenting on the following verse:

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (v. 17).

Here we see that it is possible to defile the corporate dwelling place of God. If it be asked how, we need only look to see how the Corinthians defiled it. I Corinthians 1:10 says,

“Now I beseech you…that ye all speak the same thing, and…that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind….”

The Corinthians were not practicing sunarmologeo. They were not all saying what Paul said. Some were saying what Apollos, Cephas and Christ said (v. 11,12). And while the kingdom gospel taught by these leaders was edifying in its day, it is defiling when applied to the Body of Christ. And so it is today. The “health and wealth” message that is taught by so many these days was edifying when it was part of God’s kingdom message for Israel, but it is positively defiling when applied to the Body of Christ today.

God vows to “destroy” men who defile the temple in this way (I Cor. 3:17). But when? Certainly not in this life, else fire and brimstone would fall regularly on non-Pauline pastors. No, the context here is the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is then that the “fire” of God’s Word rightly divided will “try every man’s work of what sort it is” (v. 13). Pauline builders will see their work “abide” (v. 14), but of the non-Pauline builder we read that God will destroy “the things done in his body” (II Cor. 5:10).

But it is also possible to defile the individual temple of God. The context back in I Corinthians 6 teaches clearly that sin defiles the temple of our individual body, and particularly the sin of fornication. Verse 13 says:

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.”

It would seem that some of the Corinthians were saying that just as it is unnatural to suppress the body’s appetite for food, it is also unnatural to suppress the body’s appetite for fornication! Paul agrees of course that the body is for meats and meats are for the body, but strongly disagrees with the conclusion that the body is for fornication and fornication is for the body, adding:

“And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power” (v. 14).

Some of the Corinthians no longer believed in the resurrection (15:12-19). This led them to conclude that it didn’t matter what a believer does with his body, for it will someday die and be buried. Paul insists that it does matter what we do with our physical body, for God honors the temple wherein He dwells, and plans to raise it from the dead. No wonder he thunders:

“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid” (6:15).

We are members of Christ. When we commit fornication, we involve Christ in fornication. We deplore the crime of rape, when a man forces himself upon a woman; but when we commit fornication, we force a harlot upon the Lord.

Years ago Hollywood made a movie that suggested the Lord Jesus had an adulterous affair with Mary Magdalene. The Christian public was outraged, and rightly so. But I wonder how many of those who cried out in protest were themselves guilty of involving Him in fornication through their own illicit affairs.

On Calvary, God the Father laid all of our sins on the Lord Jesus Christ, and He bore them in His own body on the tree. When He left the cross, the Lord had every right to expect He would never again have to come in contact with sin. But then He saves us, and indwells us, and we dare to involve Him in our sin!

“What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (I Cor. 6:16,17).

Television unites with movies, contemporary novels and all other aspects of modern society to suggest that fornication is merely a physical thing, but God says it isn’t! God says here in these verses that it is something deeply spiritual. Thus it is absolutely essential that we heed Paul’s advice:

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (I Cor. 6:18).

Drunkenness and drug abuse are sins that appear to be sins against a man’s own body, but this verse affirms that in this respect, fornication is in a class by itself. Thus Paul here warns us to do as Joseph did and “flee” fornication (Gen. 39:12). It is our only defense. God equips all of his creatures to defend themselves in different ways. The bear has sharp teeth and claws, the porcupine has his quills, the turtle his shell, the skunk has—well, you know what the skunk has! But the rabbit’s only defense is to flee. No one blames him for this. No one thinks, “Why doesn’t that rabbit stand and fight?” God has not equipped him for this. Neither has God equipped you to resist fornication, and there is no shame in fleeing that which God has not designed us to resist.

My young son Jesse weighs 49 pounds and is taking karate lessons. When I warn him to run from a stranger, he boasts, “Dad, I’ll just kick him!” You might laugh, but I cringe at the thought! Likewise when we think we can resist fornication, Satan laughs, but God cringes.

Paul goes on:

“…ye are not your own” (I Cor. 6:19).

A soldier is called a “G.I.” because he is Government Issued. He is not his own , and neither are you! You are living in a borrowed body, and responsible people always feel more responsible with things that are borrowed (II Ki. 6:5). Sadly, many Christians are no better than Israel of old:

“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s [corn] crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3).

People talk about being “dumb as an ox,” but even an ox knows his owner! It is the American dream to be your own boss, but spiritually speaking you are not your own boss. They say that the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, but the Christian who thinks he is his own boss spiritually has a fool for a master.

“…ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:20).

The Lord bought you with His own blood. The only question is: is He getting His money’s worth?

As we close this article, if these pages are being read by one who has defiled the temple of his body, the Spirit within you is able to perform an extremely practical function of which you should be aware:

“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).

Paul speaks here not of the resurrection of your dead body, but of your “mortal” body. It is to the Christian that Paul says, “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). It is to the Christian that he says, “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” (Rom. 8:13). The believer today cannot lose his salvation, but if he continues to deny his Owner, there is a virtual death he can enter into, a comatose Christian state in which all of his spiritual vital signs are flat-lined. He does not need to be re-saved but only awakened. And so it is to the Christian that Paul says:

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead…” (Eph. 5:14).

Even if sin has led to the spiritual death of your Christian experience, the Spirit within can raise you up to spiritual life and vitality. Paul’s argument is clear. “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you,” then surely that Spirit, which was able to raise Christ up from the sins of the world, will have no trouble raising you from your comparatively puny sins. How? Ephesians 5:14 says to those who are thus awakened from sin, “Christ shall give thee light.” Equipped with the light of God’s Word rightly divided, the Spirit can return even the most backslidden Christian to robust spiritual health.

And then may God help all of us to always live lives that make our bodies hospitable temples for the Royal Guest within us.

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Berean Searchlight – December 2003

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Putting Poppa in Perspective

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:1-3).

Dear Reader: Perhaps you can relate to me—a “Slow Learner,” unpossessing of great intellect or sagacity. Throughout my life I have often misperceived and misinterpreted the events I have experienced. Of course, this has lead to many mistakes and misunderstandings.

It is my humble prayer that the accompanying narrative will help you put your earthly Poppa in proper perspective. And more importantly to aid in opening the eyes of your understanding to an accurate and appreciative perspective of your Heavenly Father who always desires and provides His best for you. Ephesians 6:1,2 enjoins us to obey our father and mother in the Lord and to give them honor. Swift exercise of these entreaties is the ideal. Even so, delayed appreciation is much preferred over its deficit. Pray for understanding and He will give it to you (Psa.119:125 cf. Eph. 1:15-19). Take it from a “Slow Learner.”

Memories are unique things. Some are vivid and realistic, while some are hazy and ephemeral. Some are accurate, while some are skewed. Some are enjoyable, and some are far from pleasant. But all were generated from our personal perspective at the time the real event occurred.

Sometimes these memories seem to be indelible, and we can’t seem to shake them. Yes, some unpleasant memories we’d prefer to forget! For example:

In 1956 when I was 13 years old, my perspective was that every 13-year-old boy in Webb City had a motor scooter or motorbike. Everyone, that is, except me! Jim Steele had a white Cushman named Rhoid-III. Bobby Foster had a brand-spanking-new Cushman Eagle, the top of the line; Gary Goswick had a Harley Hummer; Larry Weston had a beautiful black B.S.A. Others had Simplexes, Indians and even Nortons.

But me, I only had a pedal-powered 26-inch Schwin with four baskets on it, so I could deliver all my Joplin Globes, Webb City Sentinels and Wise Buyers. If ever there was a true need for motorized transport, I was the poster boy!

But try as I might with all the persuasive arguments I could muster, Poppa was immovable in his objection. In fact, he was downright unreasonable, a regular veto despot, spoilsport, kill-joy, an evil ogre of obstinacy. His answer was always “No. No. No. And I don’t want to hear anymore about it. Not one word!”

How could I reason with such unreasonability, if I couldn’t even bring up the subject?

Time for Plan B—Wordless, yet subtle, subliminal, psychological influence. I wrote off for every motor scooter, motorbike, motorcycle brochure known to man. Soon the postman was staggering up our porch steps laden with heaps of literature beyond the capacity of our mailbox.

Plan C—Scatter them throughout the house. Motorcycles everywhere: on the coffee table, under the coffee table, same for the bedside tables, beside the commode, beside the bathtub, on the bed, under the bed, anywhere there was a flat surface.

Brochures “inadvertently” got in Poppa’s truck, even in his tool boxes. Somehow, he managed to ignore them all!

Time for Plan D—Each time we visited Sears, “Monkey” Wards, OTASCO or Western Auto, I would gravitate to the motor scooter, motorcycle department, as if drawn by some invisible magnet. There I’d be mesmerized by motors of 5, 10, even 15 horsepower. Hypnotized by the curvaceous sleekness of an Italian Vespa…only to be brought out of my trance by Poppa’s finger-snapping instructions. “Let’s go, Dave, time to get home for supper.” Poppa seemed oblivious to my heartfelt yearnings.

Time for Plan E—A plan no truly loving parent could possibly resist. That night, after Mom tucked me in bed and shut the door, Plan E was put in motion. Knowing full well that Poppa always checked on each of us boys before he went to bed, I began to set the stage. First I carefully positioned open motorcycle brochures across my stomach and chest, uppermost being my favorite, a B.S.A. like Larry Weston’s. It bore my personal inscription, “The best gift a father could give.” Propped up with two pillows, I staged the pièce de résistance. Fake teardrops from the water glass strewn across that particular page. Purposely leaving on my reading light, I drifted off to dreamland riding my new B.S.A., careful not to disturb the heart-tugging scene.

When I awoke, all my brochures were neatly stacked under my bed. At breakfast, there was no mention of anything even remotely connected to motorcycles or motor scooters. Nor did one magically appear on my birthday nor at Christmas. In point of fact I never did get one, just like I never got a horse when we lived on the farm at “Look Over Lodge.” Poppa was made of sterner stuff than I and immune to my entreaties. At least so I thought at the time from my biased and limited perspective at age 13.

Over the years, as I aged quickly but matured slowly, I expanded my perspective and with greater depth of understanding interpreted the entire motorcycle episode from a more accurate angle. It has become a “Numbers Game” I play each year on my birthday. Here’s how it works:

Take the age you are on your birthday and extrapolate back to the year your father (or mother) was the same age. You should know what is going on in your life on your current birthday. But go a step farther and using pen and paper recreate what was going on in your parents life when they were the same age.

For instance in 1980, I was 37 years old, named “Salesman of the Year” for the second consecutive year for the Grand Lakes region. I’d been married 16 years and had another two years to go before our first and only child, Amanda, would be born.

It was 1956 when Poppa turned 37. He was self employed out of necessity in a stagnant home-building era. He’d run up a $5,000 tab for supplies at Russell Belden’s Electrical Supply in Joplin. He’d tried to keep it secret, but Mom found out. She went back to work as a grocery checker at Herrod’s Meat Market for the first time since I was born in 1943. To Poppa’s embarrassment she made more than he.

In 1956, Poppa had three mouths to feed—Bob, age 3; Tom, age 9, and me, age 13—while I was reminding him relentlessly with multitudes of brochures of a $475 B.S.A. motorcycle he could not afford to buy. In the five years since receiving Grandpa Ed’s inheritance, the money which Poppa thought would last a lifetime, hadn’t! He had to sell his dream, “Look Over Lodge,” and move back to town. Born in 1919 with sight in only one eye and later crippled by polio, no employer would hire him. They only saw the liability of his impairments, not his determination and quality work.

Many years later, I learned from Mom that he had tried to get me a B.S.A. in layaway with $50 down. It was Mom that cancelled it out and applied the $50 to Poppa’s electrical supply bill. It took her five years, but she paid all $5,000 off in 1961, the year I graduated from Webb City High School.

Each birthday when I play this game, the result is always the same. I am constantly amazed at how much Poppa and Momma accomplished despite trying circumstances and how consistently they provided their best to me and my brothers. It gives me a whole new perspective of past events. One that is accurate, not biased. A true perspective that always deepens my gratitude for their loving self-sacrifice.

Play the “Numbers Game” yourself. It will give you a fresh interpretation of many bygone misconceptions and an increased appreciation for both your parents. Then if they are still with you, do not hesitate to laud them with the love and appreciation they deserve. For, as they say here in Texas: “The well is seldom truly appreciated till it’s gone dry!”

Part 2: The Unveiling and Shining Forth of Grace

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).


To the Apostle Paul was committed the greatest revelation of all time: “the mystery,” the secret of the gospel and of God’s eternal purpose (Col. 1:25,26). To him was entrusted “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph. 3:1-3). His ministry superseded that of Peter and the eleven as, upon Israel’s continued rejection of Christ and His kingdom, he became the apostle to the nations (Rom. 11:13). Solemn recognition was given to this fact by the leaders of the twelve (including Peter himself) as they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, acknowledging Paul’s divine commission to go to the Gentiles, and agreeing thenceforth to confine their own ministry to Israel (Gal. 2:2,7,9).

In connection with this commission Paul was also the divinely appointed minister of the Church of the present dispensation, “the Body of Christ” (Col. 1:24,25). (Composed of Jews and Gentiles reconciled to God in one body by the cross (Eph. 2:14-16; I Cor. 12:13), as compared with the kingdom church, which had the reign of Christ in view (See Matt. 16:15-18; 19:28; Acts 1:6; 3:19-21).) No other Bible writer has one single word to say about “the Church which is [Christ’s] Body.” None of the other apostles mention it. Not only would we seek in vain for such phraseology in their writings, but we would seek in vain for any discussion of the subject, for they do not discuss the Church of which believers today are members. But Paul, who wrote more of the books of the Bible than any other writer, deals consistently with those truths which concern “the Church which is His Body” (Eph. 1:19-23).


But this great revelation and the glorious truths associated with it have been largely lost to the professing Church.

The Church of Rome ignores the facts we have stated above, though they are clearly set forth in her own translations of the Bible. She insists that the true Church of today is a perpetuation of that which was founded by Christ while on earth; a kingdom to be established on earth, over which Peter and the eleven were appointed to be heads and rulers during His absence. And even though our Lord said nothing about a prolonged absence or of any succession of such rulers, Rome declares that her present pope is a successor to Peter and, as such, the Vicar of Christ and supreme Head of the Church on earth. Consistent with this she holds that she is laboring to fulfill the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, requiring water baptism for the remission of sins and claiming to possess miraculous powers.

But Protestantism, while boasting freedom from the tyranny of Rome, has by no means emerged entirely from the shadows of the dark ages. She still suffers a Roman hangover. While renouncing papal authority, she nevertheless still clings to the Roman teaching that the Church of today is a perpetuation of that to which our Lord referred in Matthew 16:16-18 and that it is God’s kingdom on earth. She too seeks to carry out the “great commission” given to Peter and the eleven, though half-heartedly, for she cannot make up her mind whether water baptism is or is not necessary to the remission of sins and is also confused and disagreed as to whether or not she possesses the miraculous powers of what she calls the “great commission.”

Martin Luther, under God, shook Europe to its foundations with a partial recovery of Pauline truth, but the Protestant Church has done little to further that recovery, so that rather than recognizing the distinctive character of Paul’s position as our apostle, most Protestants think of him simply as one of the apostles, along with Peter and the eleven. In taking so short a step away from Rome the Protestant Church has assumed a very weak position, for if Paul is to be considered as one with the twelve, Rome can easily prove that Peter, not Paul, was appointed as their chief (See Matt. 16:19; Acts 1:15; 2:14,38; 5:29, etc.).


Since Christendom has strayed so far and so long from the great Pauline revelation, she has lost sight almost completely of the vastness of his ministry and influence, and the extent to which his message once became known in the world. An example of this is found in what Bible scholars have done with Titus 2:11.

It is generally—and correctly—agreed that the epiphaneia in this passage connotes a conspicuous or illustrious appearing, a shining forth, and that the phrase “all men” therefore does not signify each individual singly, but all men collectively; all mankind. But few can quite believe even that under Paul’s ministry the gospel of God’s grace shone forth to all mankind, that its proclamation ever became world-wide in scope. They conclude that Paul could not have meant this in Titus 2:11; that he must have meant only that the grace of God, bringing salvation for all, had appeared.

This problem seems to have troubled even the translators of this passage, for Bible translators have never been agreed as to its true meaning.

According to some translations, like Darby’s New Translation, the apostle meant that the grace of God had appeared, bringing salvation for all men. According to others, like the Authorized (quoted above) he meant that the grace of God had appeared to all men, bringing salvation. Still others use guarded phraseology, even to the point of ambiguity, but most take one or the other of the above views. The majority, probably, including some of those apt to be most faithful in their renderings, conform in substance to the Authorized Version as quoted above. One cannot help feeling that were it not for the translators’ doubts that Paul could have meant that the message of Grace was shining forth to all mankind, all, or nearly all, would have rendered the passage substantially like the Authorized Version. In view of these doubts it is significant that so many have rendered it like the Authorized.


Apart from Paul’s statement in Titus 2:11 there is much Scriptural evidence that his message did shine forth to all the known world. Before considering this evidence, however, let us first observe that the eleven, under Peter, had previously been sent to proclaim their God-given message to all mankind. In the records of their “great commission” three different terms are used to emphasize this fact:

“Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations” (Matt. 28:19 cf. Luke 24:47).

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature [i.e., all creation]” (Mark 16:15).

The reader is asked to remember well these three terms: all nations, all the world and all creation, for we are to find them used again in connection with the ministry of Paul.

The Twelve (Matthias replacing Judas) began to carry out their world-wide mission, but never got beyond their own nation. We should always associate Acts 1:8 with Acts 8:1 in our study of the Acts, for Jerusalem, rather than turning to Messiah so that the apostles could go on with their “great commission,” started a “great persecution” against the Church there, with the result that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”

The twelve have often been charged with bigotry and unfaithfulness for remaining in Jerusalem at this time. In fact, however, it was rare courage and fidelity to their commission that kept them in Jerusalem while persecution raged and their very lives were in danger. They remained at Jerusalem for the same reason that the rest fled: because Jerusalem was not turning to Christ. The first part of their commission had not yet been fulfilled, therefore they were duty-bound to remain there.

The twelve did not remain at Jerusalem because they were prejudiced against the salvation of the Gentiles. There is too much scriptural evidence against this. They remained there because they had a clear understanding of the prophetic program and of their Lord’s commission (See Luke 24:45; Acts 1:3; 2:4). They knew that according to covenant and prophecy the Gentiles were to be saved and blessed through redeemed Israel (Gen. 22:17,18; Isa. 60:1-3; Zech. 8:13). Our Lord had indicated no change in this program. He worked in perfect harmony with it. Even before His death He had insisted that Israel was first in God’s revealed program, commanding His disciples not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans but to “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6), and saying to a Gentile who came for help: “Let the children first be filled” (Mark 7:27). And later, in His “great commission” to the eleven, He had specifically stated that they should begin at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

Peter certainly indicated his desire that the “commission” under which he worked would bring about the fulfillment of the prophecies and the covenant to Abraham, when he said to the “men of Israel”:

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

“Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:25,26).

And Paul, though not working under this same commission, later also bore witness that Israel had been first in God’s program, when he said to the Jews at Pisidian Antioch:

“It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you…” (Acts 13:46).

It was only when Israel persisted in rejecting Christ and His Kingdom that God began to set the nation aside, raising up Paul to go to the Gentiles with the good news of salvation “by grace,” apart from the covenants and prophecies, and “through faith,” apart from works. It was then that Paul went to Jerusalem “by revelation” and communicated to the leaders there that gospel which he preached among the Gentiles (Gal. 2:2). And those leaders, including Peter himself, gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship in official recognition of the fact that Paul had been chosen by Christ as the apostle to the nations and that they were henceforth to confine their ministry to Israel (Gal. 2:7-9).

With this official recognition of the divine purpose the apostles at Jerusalem were “loosed” from their original commission to make disciples of all nations, and Paul alone could say:

“I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Rom. 11:13).

Arguments are sometimes presented from church history to prove that the twelve did go to Gentile territory; that not more than one or two of them died in Palestine. But even if these arguments could be fully substantiated, this would not enter into the case, for whatever the Circumcision apostles may have done after the agreement of Galatians 2, they had no apostolic authority among the Gentiles, and after the declaration of Acts 28:28 they had no apostolic authority whatever. What any of them wrote (of the Scriptures) after that, they simply wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, just as any other Bible writer.

Let us mark well, then, that Peter and the eleven, who had originally been sent to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to “all nations,” “all the world” and “all creation,” never completed their mission. Indeed, had they done so that dispensation would have been brought to a close, for our Lord had said concerning the tribulation period (then imminent, but later graciously postponed):

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).

If, therefore, the pouring out of the Spirit had been followed directly by the pouring out of God’s wrath (both predicted in Joel 2 as quoted by Peter in Acts 2) Israel would have turned to God in repentance and the twelve would have proceeded to proclaim “the gospel of the kingdom” to all nations. That dispensation would thus have been consummated; the end would have come. But rather than send the judgment immediately, God interrupted the prophetic program and revealed His secret purpose, sending Paul forth to proclaim to all mankind “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).


Surely no one even superficially acquainted with the Book of Acts or the Epistles of Paul will question the fact that sometime after our Lord’s commission to the eleven, Paul was sent, as an apostle of Christ, to proclaim to all mankind “the gospel of the grace of God.”

It is significant that the three terms employed in the so-called “great commission” to indicate its world-wide scope are also used in Paul’s epistles in connection with his ministry. Only, whereas the twelve never got to “all nations,” “all the world” or “all creation” with their message, Paul did with his.

In closing his epistle to the Romans the apostle says:

“Now to Him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.

“But now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25,26).

And to the Colossians he writes concerning “the truth of the gospel”:

“Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you…” (Col. 1:6).

“…which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven [all creation under heaven]; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Col. 1:23).

Various arguments may be advanced to prove that “the gospel of the grace of God” did not actually reach “all the world” or “all creation,” and we do not deny that to those addressed “all the world” would doubtless mean all the known world, and “all creation” would likewise mean all the creation as they knew it. But the point is that whatever these three phrases mean in the so-called “great commission,” they must also mean in these statements by Paul, for the terms are exactly identical in the original.

We have seen how the twelve did not get their message to “all nations,” “all the world” or “all creation,” because, on the one hand Israel rejected it and on the other hand God had a secret purpose to unfold. But Paul, to whom this secret purpose was revealed, says he did get his message to “all nations,” “all the world” and “all creation.”

Whereas the twelve never got beyond their own nation in carrying out their commission, it is written of Paul that during his stay at Ephesus “all they which dwelt in Asia [Minor] heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). To the Romans he writes: “from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:19), and speaks of his plans to go to Spain (15:24), plans which may well have been accomplished between his two imprisonments. Even of his helpers it was said: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). And to the Romans again he says: “your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8).

With regard to this last statement it is argued by some that since Paul had not even been to Rome by then, it must be that believers from the Jerusalem Church got as far as Rome under their “great commission.”

We do not accept this as valid, for while indeed there were “strangers from Rome” present at Pentecost, there is no indication that there was any substantial number of these, or that those present were even converted, much less that they started a church at Rome. Thus those to whom Paul wrote at Rome could scarcely have been converts of the Circumcision believers at Jerusalem. They had doubtless been won to Christ through those whom Paul had reached with “the gospel of the grace of God.”

This leads us to recognize another important fact. We have seen from Matthew 24:14 that if the twelve had gotten their message to all the world “the end” of that dispensation would have come. This proves at the same time that Paul was not laboring to fulfill the “great commission” to the eleven and that he did not preach the same gospel as they, for then “the end” would have come in his day, since he says that his message had gone to “all the world.”

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Berean Searchlight – November 2003

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Facts on Tithing

  1. The English word “tithe” as well as its Hebrew-Greek equivalents “ma`aser” and “apodekatoo” means a tenth.
  2. Many Christian churches preach tithing as a means of supporting the work of the Lord today. There are many variations of this theme. Some pay the local church one tenth of their income after taxes and bills are paid; some pay before. Others demand tithing on unemployment, inheritance, gifts, tax refunds, social security and even gambling winnings. The tithing issue has caused a great deal of strife and division in our churches over the years.
  3. The most well known passage on tithing comes from the Old Testament book of Malachi 3:7-10. This Scripture has given rise to the practice of “Storehouse Tithing.” Simply stated, the congregation is exhorted from the pulpit to channel all of their Christian giving through the local church (storehouse). If they wish to give to a Christian organization, radio or television broadcast, etc., it must go through their denominational machinery in order for the local church to get “credit.” Also the pastor and elders often must make the determination if the cause supported by the giver is “worthy.”
  4. This use of the Malachi passage is a good example of Scripture being taken out of its historical and dispensational context. “This whole nation” in verse 9 is the backslidden nation of Israel, NOT the present day church (Malachi 1:1; 3:6). They were under the law of Moses as a system of conditional blessing. Believers today are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:14). As such we have already been blessed by God with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and are under a system of unconditional blessing with grace on the throne (Romans 5:21).
  5. This should put an end to the common charge that believers who don’t tithe are “robbing God” and will be “cursed with a curse.” The storehouse mentioned in verse 10 is not a local church but a storage bin or silo in the Jewish temple where the grain from the Hebrew’s tithes was stored (2 Chronicles 31:4-12).
  6. Under the law only agricultural products were tithed. They included grain, fruit, and livestock. Only products produced within the boundaries of the land of Israel were to be tithed. Jews living in Gentile lands were exempt (Leviticus 27:30-34).
  7. Others exempt from the tithing law included the hired hands, fishermen, miners, lumber workers, construction workers, soldiers, weavers, potters, manufacturers, merchants, government workers, and priests. In short, all who were not farmers were exempt.
  8. A farmer with only 9 cattle did not tithe because the law specified the “tenth which passeth under the rod.” Likewise a farmer with 19 sheep paid only 1 sheep to the Lord’s tithe.
  9. The Jewish farmers in the land could redeem (buy back) the tithes of their crops with a penalty of one fifth. In other words, if a farmer wishes to keep his tithe of grain worth $1,000, he could pay the cash equivalent of $1,200 (Leviticus 27:31).
  10. Livestock could not be brought back nor could the farmer exchange a good animal for a bad one or vice versa. Any attempt to substitute any other animal other than the tenth which passed under the rod would be penalized by the farmer forfeiting both the tenth and its substitute (Leviticus 27:33).
  11. God ordained the Levites to be the ones to whom the tithe was paid (Numbers 18:21). They were one of the 12 tribes of Israel to whom no inheritance was given in the land. The Lord Himself and the tithes of the children of Israel was their inheritance. It was used for the service of the tabernacle (later the temple) (Numbers 18:20-28).
  12. It was unlawful for anyone outside of the tribe of Levi to receive the tithe, such as prophets, preachers, kings or evangelists.
  13. The Levites paid one tenth of their tithes to the high priest. Not all Levites were priests but only the sons of Aaron. The priests did not tithe.
  14. The Lord Jesus Christ did not ask for or receive a tithe for support of His ministry. Being of the tribe of Judah (not Levi) He could not without breaking the law (Hebrews 7:14; Revelation 5:5).
  15. Neither Peter (not of the tribe of Levi) nor Paul (of the tribe of Benjamin) could receive tithes for the support of their ministries.
  16. Even the Jews do not practice tithing today because there are no Levites, priests, or temple worship in Jerusalem. Jewish rabbis know biblical law well enough to know that tithing under the present circumstances is unlawful. According to them, when the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem with a consecrated altar with priests and Levites officiating, all Jews living within the biblical tithing zones will tithe.
  17. Some Christian ministries today continue to support tithing, using the argument that it predates Moses and the law. But this reasoning is not valid, for the Sabbath also predates the giving of the law (Exodus 16:23-29) and yet it is not binding on God’s people today (Romans 14:5,6; Galatians 4:9,10; Colossians 2:16,17).
  18. Abraham gave tithes to Melchisedec, king of Salem, but this was the spoils of war, not the legalistic tithe of the land which Moses commanded. Also, God did not command the tithe, Abraham chose to give it of his own free will (Genesis 14:17-23; Hebrews 7:1-10).
  19. The only other scriptural reference to tithing before Moses is Jacob. Again there is no command to tithe. In fact Jacob puts up numerous conditions to be met before he will pay the tithe to the Lord (Genesis 28:20-22).
  20. The biblical references which address the tithing issues are: Genesis 14:20; 28:22; Leviticus 27:30-32; Numbers 18:20-28; Deuteronomy 12:6,11,17; 14:22,23,28; 26:12; 2 Chronicles 31:5,6,12; Amos 4:4; Malachi 3:8-10; Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42; 18:12; Hebrews 7:5-9.1
  21. Paul the apostle to the Gentiles for this present dispensation of Grace does not mention tithing but says a great deal about Christian giving. Romans 15:25,26; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14; 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians chapters 8 & 9; Galatians 6:6-10; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Timothy 5:9-18.

WHO is to give to the Lord’s work? The Christian! He gives systematically, sacrificially, and joyfully. TO WHOM does he give? To Christ! FOR WHAT does he give? For the cause of Christ! NOT to a man or to a church, not for gain, but for the Gospel.


  1. According to Deuteronomy 14:22,23,28; 26:12; and Amos 4:4, the tithe was only given every three years.

Part 1: The Dispensation of Grace

Mystery or Prophecy?

We have often insisted that while the prophets “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow,” they knew nothing of the present period of grace which lies between our Lord’s suffering and His kingdom glory.

“The dispensation of the grace of God,” we read in Ephesians 3, was “a mystery” only made known “by revelation” to Paul, some years after the rejected Christ had returned to heaven. In verse 5 he says that “in other ages” it was “not made known.” In verse 8 he calls it “the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” In Romans 16:25 he says it was “kept secret since the world began.” In Colossians 1:26 he insists again that it was “hid from ages and from generations.”

But there are still thousands of sincere believers who do not see this. They think that the prophets predicted the reign of grace as well as the reign of Christ. Thus they lose some of the joy of that great surprise of grace which God planned for sinners “before the world began” (II Tim. 1:9), but “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25).

One of the Scriptures which troubles them most is I Peter 1:10: “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.” They say that this proves conclusively that the dispensation of Grace was prophesied beforehand and was no mystery at all.

But here again we must distinguish between grace in a dispensation and the dispensation of Grace. Peter is not speaking of the reign of grace here, but of the grace that will prevail during the reign of Christ. This is clear from the 13th verse, where he exhorts his Jewish Christian brethren, “Hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Remember that like Christ on earth, Peter was a minister of “the Circumcision” (Rom. 15:18; Gal. 2:7). His message to the believing Jews had the kingdom reign of Christ in view.

The prophets had clearly predicted that God would judge the world for rejecting His Son and would enthrone Christ in spite of them. He did not do this immediately, however. In matchless mercy, He deferred the judgment and offered salvation to all who would receive it as a free gift through the merits of Christ. And so, while Christ is not yet reigning, grace reigns. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign” (Rom. 5:21).

An over-abounding grace is the outstanding characteristic of God’s dealings with man in “this present evil age.”

When Saul of Tarsus became the leader of an organized rebellion against Christ, God in love reached down to save him, choosing him as the very agent through whom He would proclaim grace to a lost world.

Listen to his testimony and his message:

“Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious, but…the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant” (I Tim. 1:13,14).

“Not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom. 5:15).

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20).

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph. 1:7,8).

“Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).

“And God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Cor. 9:8).

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (II Cor. 4:15).

Do you wonder why we say that an over-abounding grace is the outstanding characteristic of God’s dealings with man in “this present evil age”? Surely grace is reigning. Otherwise the thunders of God’s judgment would roll and He would bring in the reign of Christ.

Though, in his first epistle, Peter told the believing Jews to “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” he later learned something of that greater grace which God was to manifest in deferring the judgment of the nations and the reign of Christ, and, as we shall see, he learned it from Paul.

As Israel refused to repent and Christ did not return, some began to cry “Where is the promise of His coming?” (II Pet. 3:4).

Peter now answers this beautifully. He says “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” And note, this is not a lame explanation offered today at the close of the age of Grace. This statement was made at the dawn of the age.

Peter goes on, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count [it], slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:8,9 cf. I Tim. 1:16 “all longsuffering”). So the delay must not be counted slackness on God’s part, but longsuffering, and since “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” this delay might continue for any amount of time, even though the signs of the last days had already begun to appear (Acts 2:16,17).

How did Peter know this? He certainly didn’t find it in prophecy.

Before we quote the significant closing words of his epistle let us remember Paul’s word in Ephesians 3:1-3. “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the Mystery….”

How beautifully this harmonizes with the closing words of Peter’s second epistle! He tells them not to count the delay slackness, but says “…account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you” (II Pet. 3:15). No wonder he says in the closing verse “But grow in grace!”

Peter has learned why “the revelation of Jesus Christ” is being delayed. May we learn it too. God is waiting because of “His great love,” because He is loathe to judge.

How long He will continue to wait we cannot tell. We can only say to the unsaved, “We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain….Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:1,2). And to the saved, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil(Eph. 5:15,16).


Ask the average believer what the Bible word “grace” means, and he will doubtless reply “unmerited favor.”

Actually, however, grace is much more than this.

Subjectively, it is that loving attitude, or disposition, on God’s part, from which all His kindness toward us flows.

Objectively, it is all the kindness that flows from His love toward us.

Thus we read in Ephesians 2:2-6 that we were “the children of disobedience” and therefore “by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

“And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Note: This passage begins with those who were “children of disobedience” and “children of wrath” and, saving them “by grace,” gives them a position in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus!

God’s grace to us as sinners was great indeed, for:

“In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His [God’s] grace” (Eph. 1:7).

But now, having given us a position in His beloved Son, God’s grace goes out to us in still greater measure.

Ephesians 1:6 declares that God has “made us accepted [Lit., “engraced us”] in the Beloved.” “The Beloved”! What a name for the Son of God’s love!

Beholding us in Christ, God loves us and delights in us more than any father ever delighted in his son, or any grandfather in that precious grandchild.

Thus, while in Ephesians 1:7 we read that we have “redemption…the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace,” in Ephesians 2:7 we see these riches of grace increased to us “exceedingly,” now that we occupy a position “in the Beloved”:

“That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace….”


“…in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”!

What a prospect! Through the ages of eternity God will lavish His loving kindness upon us to demonstrate to all the universe “the exceeding riches of His grace”!


To a young Christian who kept bemoaning his failures and lack of spiritual growth, and wondering how God could love him, a more mature believer responded substantially as follows:

“When I leave here and return to my home I will pick up my little baby girl and put her on my knee. Tired as I am, I will dandle her on my knee and, somehow, looking into that darling face and those pretty blue eyes, I will soon feel rested and refreshed.

“This is strange, in a way, for she does not love me. She doesn’t even know what love is.

“She doesn’t appreciate my problems and has no sympathy for me. My heart can be burdened with grief or filled with anxiety, and my mind vexed with difficult problems, but she doesn’t even know or care. She just keeps gurgling and giggling at the attention I lavish upon her.

“She doesn’t contribute one cent toward the needs of our family; indeed, she costs me a great deal of money and will for years to come. Yet I love that child more than I can say. There is no sacrifice I would not make for her; no good thing I would not gladly give her.”

Such is the grace of God towards us, His children. It does not depend upon our faithfulness to Him or our appreciation of His love to us. He loves us with an unspeakable love and keeps lavishing upon us “the riches of His grace” simply because we are His children in Christ, the Beloved.

And strangely, is it not precisely this fact that proves to be our greatest incentive to give ourselves to Him in loving service and sacrifice!

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Berean Searchlight – October 2003

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Paul’s Desire and Prayer

In the little town of Olney, England stands a large granite tombstone. If you were to kneel down in front of this stately stone you would read the following inscription:

“John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.” (101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace, page 28, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan.)

The story of John Newton’s conversion is quite remarkable. As a young man he lived a life of utter debauchery and rebellion against God and his fellowman. During these years his mother prayed for him without ceasing and frequently shared the gospel with him. At a very young age he took over his father’s slave trading business, transporting slaves between South Africa and England.

He recounts how on one of the return voyages to England a storm came up at sea in the middle of the night. Apparently, that old ship was nearly torn apart by the raging ocean, causing the vessel to take on water. As the waves violently swept over the bow of the ship it appeared as though there was little hope of surviving the ordeal. In the midst of the storm, Newton retired to his cabin, sure that he would perish at sea that fateful night. God has interesting ways of getting our attention! When we are faced with our own mortality we quickly turn to spiritual things.

As Newton pondered his spiritual condition, he reached into his belongings and took out a little book entitled, “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas a Kempis, that his mother had given to him shortly before her death. That evening he read the entire book from cover to cover and as a result he trusted Christ as his personal Savior. Soon thereafter he began to preach the faith he had long sought to destroy. Literally thousands came to hear this old sea captain share how Christ had saved him from the depths of sin. In addition to becoming an advocate for the abolition of slavery, John Newton is probably best known as the author of the beloved hymn Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

It is truly amazing what the grace of God can do in a life. Like the Apostle Paul, John Newton had a burden for lost souls. They both had a longing desire that their countrymen might be saved.


“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” (Rom. 10:1).

As we know, Romans 9, 10, and 11 are the dispensational chapters of the Book of Romans. In chapter 9 we have Israel’s past—here we see Paul’s passion for the elect nation. The present state of Israel is the subject of chapter 10—here we learn of her unbelief. Finally in chapter 11 we have what is in store for future Israel—here the apostle answers the question “Hath God cast away His people… which He foreknew?”

The foregoing passage is only one of two passages where we are told to pray for the unsaved. All other references to prayer in Paul’s epistles concern the believer. Pastor Win Johnson and I were discussing this passage one evening and I asked him why the lion’s share of passages on prayer had to do with those who are saved. He felt it was because the believer is in a warfare. We are engaged in a great spiritual conflict with an enemy who’s seeking to destroy our Christian homes and marriages. Satan often turns one believer against another, desiring to sow discord among the brethren. Beloved, the person sitting next to you is not the enemy. Even though they may have wounded you deeply, for the sake of the cause of Christ you are to forgive them as Christ forgave you. We should pray for one another without ceasing. After all, we are members of His Body, members one of another.

But we should also pray for the unsaved. Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer for his countrymen was that they might be saved. I would venture to say that before your conversion to Christ someone was praying for the salvation of your soul. In my life, it was a godly Great Aunt who prayed for me for nearly twenty years. The day I told her that I came to Christ she said that she was always confident that the Lord would save me. Then she added: “Now I am going to pray that the Lord will use you in a wonderful way to the praise of His glory.” Brethren, not only should we pray for the unbeliever, we should also share the gospel with him. This was Paul’s practice as the following passages confirm.

Romans 9, 10, and 11 deal primarily with Israel nationally and the Gentile nations in relation to her. However, we must remember that the apostle is dealing with the present state of Israel in chapter 10. Therefore, seeing that the chosen nation has already been set aside in unbelief, Paul addresses individual Israelites.

“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall [that is, beyond recovery]? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11).

The stoning of Stephen was Israel’s Waterloo! This event marked the fall of Israel, as far as God was concerned. But why was this particular event so critical historically? It served as the culmination of years of rebellion and rejection within the chosen nation. Humanly speaking, the casting away of Israel was a gradual process that took place over a thirty-year period. By the time Paul penned the words of Romans chapter 10, not only had Israel fallen nationally, the diminishing of the nation was also drawing to a close. So the final curtain call for the wayward nation had already been made.

With the introduction of a new dispensation, God graciously extends the offer of salvation to individual Israelites. Interestingly, Paul begins with the nation in Romans chapter 10 by using plural pronouns “they” and “them,” but he shifts to singular pronouns later in the chapter as he addresses individual Israelites.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God” (Rom. 10:1,2).

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:8,9).


“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2,3).

Israel had a burning desire to serve the true and living God. She was on fire for the things of the Lord. The only problem was her zeal was not according to knowledge. There was a sense that Paul could relate to his countrymen, having had the same desire prior to his conversion. After setting forth an impressive list of credentials in Philippians 3, the apostle states: “Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church.” As Paul attempted to make himself acceptable to God through good deeds, he thought within himself that by persecuting the Church, and laying it waste, he was doing God a favor (John 16:2,3).

Israel had the same attitude. As noted, her zeal was not according to knowledge. The term “knowledge” in this passage is the Greek word epignosis. It has the idea of having a fuller knowledge or a more perfect understanding. Paul was the first to use this term, and he uses it often, for this reason: he had received a special revelation from the Lord of glory, therefore, he had a fuller knowledge of God’s will. For example, with the abolition of the sacrificial system, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Today there is the new and living way—Christ!

Sadly Israel, nationally, was ignorant of God’s righteousness. She failed to understand how righteous God truly is. He’s perfect in all things and those who step into His presence must be perfect. But Pastor, “Nobody’s perfect!” That’s the problem—you must be perfect to live in God’s presence. Simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ the sinner is taken out of Adam and placed into Christ. In Him alone is redemption; He is the righteousness of God (I Cor. 1:30).

But Israel went about seeking to establish her own righteousness by trying to keep the law. To illustrate what the apostle means here, we are indebted to our Lord for the following parable.

“And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

This high and mighty Pharisee, a conservative religious leader at that time, thought he was right with God since he had meticulously kept the letter of the law. He fasted religiously and gave tithes dutifully as the law demanded. He boasted before God that he was grateful he wasn’t like other men who were ungodly sinners. He was especially thankful he wasn’t like the publican who was also at the temple offering up a prayer to God. Publicans were the offscouring of the earth. They would be akin to our street people today.

Nevertheless, the publican humbled himself before God, praying that the Lord would be merciful to him being a sinner. Interestingly the term “merciful” here looks back to the Old Testament Mercy Seat where the blood was sprinkled for the atonement of sin. You see, the publican had responded to God in faith, praying that God would have mercy on him, as He did upon the nation when He looked upon the blood on the Mercy Seat. Under the old economy faith always obeyed the law, which served as an outward expression of a proper response to God.

The majority within the chosen nation were like the Pharisee who sought to obtain a righteous standing with God through the works of the law. This is what the apostle had in mind when he says that they were going about seeking to establish their own righteousness. They failed to understand that the intent of the law was not to save them; rather, it was to give them a knowledge of sin so they could, like the publican, throw themselves upon the mercy of God and bring a sacrifice by faith.

“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law” (Rom. 9:31,32).


“[They] have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:3,4).

We believe Christ is the end of the law in two senses. First and foremost, the law was merely a schoolmaster, whose goal was to bring those under it to Christ that they might be justified by faith. When Christ carried out His earthly ministry the goal of the law was accomplished, so Israel is no longer under the schoolmaster. Second, Christ came not to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill them. He perfectly fulfilled every stipulation of the law in spirit and act; therefore, He also terminated it (Gal. 3:24,25 cf. Col. 2:14). Christ, then, is the righteousness of God!

“For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (Rom. 10:5).

Was the law of God righteous? Indeed! The problem, you see, was not with the law, it was with sinful man who was unable to keep it perfectly. If a man breaks one of the laws of God he is a lawbreaker. This is the very point that James makes: “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). The law was powerless to impart life; it pointed its bony finger in the face of the accused and essentially pronounced a sentence of condemnation. The eminent Greek scholar, Kenneth Wuest, made the following insightful poetic verse regarding the law:

Do this and live the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands,
A better word the gospel brings, it bids me fly and gives me wings.

“But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead)” (Rom. 10:6,7).

In verses 5 through 8 Paul contrasts the “way of the law” with “the way of faith.” Since Moses was so revered in Israel, the apostle quotes the great Lawgiver, but recasts his words under the direction of the Holy Spirit. To properly understand Paul’s argument it will first be necessary to consider Moses’ original statement:

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” (Deut. 30:11-13).

As Moses neared the end of his life, the children of Israel were painfully aware that he would only be with them a short time. They knew Moses had spoken directly to God on their behalf, but who would minister to them after the Deliverer was gone? Moses instructs them accordingly: Don’t say, who will ascend into heaven and bring us the revelation of God, or who will cross the sea to bring us a teacher? The will of God for you is found in the Books of the Law; you need to look no farther. It is within your reach—in your mouth and in your heart.

Paul refashions the words of Moses to reveal that salvation by grace through faith was now available to individual Israelites through Christ. There is no need for someone to ascend into heaven, for that is to bring Christ down. This would crucify the Son of Man afresh. God forbid! He already came and offered Himself as a once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world. Neither was there a need to inquire, “Who shall descend into the deep? (that is to bring up Christ again from the dead).” Christ had already conquered sin and death and risen victoriously over it. The work was finished!

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach” (Rom. 10:8). Note Paul says, “The word of faith, which we preach.” What did the apostle preach in order for a lost soul to be saved? Simply this, Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, all three of which are implied in the foregoing passages. Essentially, Paul said to his countrymen that salvation is near, even in their mouth as they read the Word, and in their heart if they believed it. Christ has abolished the performance system; simply place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9,10).

This passage has been a stumbling block for many dear saints. First, Paul is not speaking about public confession before men as a prerequisite to be saved. If this were the case salvation would be associated with a work. The apostle uses the mouth and heart here in the spiritual sense. We should add that both confession and belief are in harmony with one another. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin. The context substantiates Paul is referring to our innermost being. He says in verse 6: “Say not in thine heart,” that is, say not to yourself who will ascend into heaven, etc. In like manner when we heard the gospel we said to ourselves in our heart of hearts, I believe!

Paul calls upon his countrymen to confess or acknowledge that the Lord Jesus died for their sins and rose again. The apostle lays special emphasis upon the resurrection, because while many of his readers were well aware Christ had been crucified, they may not have been aware that He had conquered death and rose again the third day. Salvation is in a person, and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. Once the vertical relationship is established with the Savior by faith, it will eventually touch all of our horizontal relationships that we have with one another. Thus “according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (II Cor. 4:13).

“For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:11-13).

Those who trust Christ will never be ashamed or defeated. We are saved from the wrath to come, not only in the coming tribulation period, but also from the judgment to come. Thankfully, in Christ we are beyond the reach of God’s wrath.

We also learn here that there is no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles today who call upon the Lord. This was unheard of under the former dispensation of the law. Once again, this is epignosis or that fuller knowledge of God’s will Paul spoke of earlier. Before the foundation of the world God had foreordained the Church of this age, which is uniquely a Pauline truth. Consequently, in the administration of Grace there is one Body which is made up of Jews and Gentiles without distinction.

Even though the apostle quotes from the Old Testament when he states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” this passage must be interpreted in light of Paul’s revelation. In time past, whosoever called upon the Lord was saved through Israel. Today, whosoever believes is saved in spite of Israel since she has been temporarily cast aside in unbelief (Isa. 49:6 cf. Rom. 11:11,15,25).

Have you called upon the Lord to be saved? If not, we beg you to do so without delay. You are dangling over the lake of fire by one thin thread of human existence. Soon the fires of God’s wrath will consume you and the weight of your sins will plunge you into eternal darkness forever and ever. Flee from the wrath to come. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore your sins upon the Cross, and thou shalt be saved!

You can receive More Minutes With the Bible every week in your email inbox. This list features longer articles, including both original content and articles that have appeared in the Berean Searchlight.