The Jerusalem Council: The Second Serious Error of the Apostles

Matthew 21 and Romans 11: the Gospel is Ripped Away from the Jews

The legalism which spread outward from Jerusalem during that first generation of the gospel was destructive in two major ways:

  1. It attempted to degrade the gospel of free grace into a religious ideology that deceived the lost into thinking they could be saved apart from grace; at the very least it asserted that grace needed the Law to be effective. The inevitable result is that anyone so persuaded would remain lost and certainly swell the ranks of the multitudes who falsely believe they are saved. They will experience the Resurrection of Judgment and are, therefore, eternally doomed.
  2. The LORD ripped away from the Jews the responsibility of preaching the gospel and gave it instead to the Gentiles. Jerusalem would no longer represent the center of Christianity.

That second point is the topic of this chapter: the Jewish believers largely proved to be careless with and indifferent to the gospel of free grace.

According to the historical testimony of the NT, most of them simply refused to share the gospel with the Gentiles, as is clearly seen here many years after the resurrection of the Lord Christ:

Act 11.19-20
So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.

This is in direct disobedience to the Lord Christ’s clear command:

Mat 28.19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Throughout all time, the record of the Scripture is clear: no one disobeys with impunity any of the LORD’s commands—and that included the early church! As the text in Acts chapter 11 shows, primarily those who were Jewish believers mostly refused to preach the gospel of grace to the Gentiles. Instead, they continued their culture of aloofness towards Gentiles, and as shown in an earlier chapter, that included even their Gentile brethren!

There are two passages of Scripture which bear directly on this point: the Parable of the Landowner in Mat 21.33-44 and Romans chapter 11.

 


Mat 21.33-44: The Parable of the Landowner

Matthew records a few confrontations between the Lord Christ and the religious elite of His day. He often taught in their synagogues:

Mat 4.23
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

Mat 9.35
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

Mat 12.9
Departing from there, He went into their synagogue.

Mat 13.54-57a
He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at Him.

That last reference is critical: the Lord Christ had “invaded the turf” of the religious elite; He taught with authority rather than in the typical babble of the scribes. (Mat 7.29) In a word, the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes became as irrelevant as they were jealous of the Lord. And, unsurprisingly, their opposition to Him grew.

Matthew records one of the confrontations in chapter 21 which took place only several days before His crucifixion.

The religious elite could not legitimately refute the Lord’s great works both of power and mercy; there was a mountain of evidence that the Lord Christ was the Messiah. The problem was that He did not meet their false notions of who and what the Messiah was supposed to be. They looked for a king who would rescue them from the political oppression of the Romans and set up Israel, finally, as the most powerful hegemony of the planet.

Instead, the Lord Christ eschewed all the appearance and trappings of power; He was meek and humble. He also claimed to be the Son of God—something they couldn’t reconcile and therefore instinctively considered blasphemy.

It was the perfect storm of rebellion against the Lord Christ.

In graphic demonstration of just how completely corrupted and given over to evil they had become, and despite of the fact that anyone who could perform the great works the Lord did simply must have had an intrinsic authority, they decided to challenge His authority anyway! Their arrogance was palpable!

Mat 21.23
When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?

As Matthew’s narrative continues, the Lord then told them a pair of parables designed to expose their hypocrisy. The first is the Parable of the Two Sons. When the Lord posed the question as to which of the two sons was obedient:

Mat 21.31
Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”

they were forced to answer correctly. The Lord publicly condemned their evil and hypocrisy by declaring that those whom the Pharisees considered the dregs of humanity would make it to heaven instead of them. And, the reason was that they were incapable of true repentance:

Mat 21.32b
and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe [John the Baptizer].

But, the most scathing rebuke followed in the much longer Parable of the Landowner. The landowner, at the time of the harvest, expected to receive the fruit from his vineyard. Instead, those to whom had been entrusted the responsibility of the vineyard and its harvest rebelled against the landowner and, ultimately, killed the son of the landowner who had been sent to collect the harvest.

When the Lord asked the question at the end of the second parable it is evident that the chief priests and Pharisees had not yet realized the Lord’s purpose in telling the parables:

Mat 21.40
Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?

The priests and Pharisees fell headlong into the self-incriminating trap the Lord set. Notice their “righteous indignation” against the corrupt stewards of their Lord’s vineyard:

Mat 21.41
They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.

They were absolutely correct—but didn’t have a clue that they had just condemned themselves!

The Lord then made it crystal clear with a prophecy that would be fulfilled within a few years:

Mat 21.42-43
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,
‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone;
This came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

It was at that point that the religious elite finally understood the full weight of self-incrimination of the Lord's parables:

Mat 21.45
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.

But, did you notice that phrase in verse 43: “… will be taken away from you …”?

From Abram forward, the Jews were the Lord’s chosen people. When the gospel came to mankind, it came first to the Jews; from Abram onward they had always been the people of divine privilege. However, the Lord Christ made it very clear that that relationship was about to change: the Jews would be removed as the primary keepers of the Lord’s vineyard in favor of another people who would take those responsibilities seriously.

[It is vital to understand here that this change in relationship is temporary (as we’ll see in Romans chapter 11); the LORD has never permanently rejected His people. Should He do so, He would break the promise He made to Abram centuries before:

Gen 12.2-3
And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

The LORD never breaks a promise. (It is a well-known error of postmillennial and amillennial eschatology to maintain that the Lord Christ, the son of David, will not actually rule national Israel during the Millennium, the LORD thereby breaking His promise to David in 2 Sam 7 and 1 Chr 22!)

He has, however, been very angry with His nation Israel. Centuries ago, He declared the following as Israel’s punishment for their national disobedience:

Hos 5.14-15
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

The most likely time of this event was the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the subsequent travails of the nation for the last two millennia. But, in the same book, the LORD declared that He would ultimately forgive Israel and bring them back:

Hos 14.4-5
I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.

The Jews were to be the people through whom grace was to come to the world. But like their forefathers in the OT, both the NT religious elite and the secular masses were thoroughly corrupt. As a result, the Lord Christ warned them that they would lose their divine privilege as a nation; the time would come when the responsibility of the work of the gospel in the world—His vineyard—would no longer be theirs.

This did, in fact, take place long before the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 A.D, as witnessed by the history of the book of Acts. The Gentile city, Syrian Antioch, became the center of thriving, vibrant “mostly Gentile” Christianity in the Middle East during that first century following the resurrection of the Lord Christ.

Acts chapters 21 and 22 clearly mark the end of real Christianity in Jerusalem. The mob that attacked the Apostle Paul and tried to kill him did so because they had reverted to Law; they were obvious enemies of the gospel of free grace. As shown earlier, James not only missed completely this transition, he actually helped it to form!

The remaining chapters of Acts deal exclusively with the legal travails of the Apostle Paul and his ultimate delivery to Rome. And, while the historical record shows that Paul had some freedom (Act 28.20-31) to preach, he never again had the liberty to travel throughout the region as an evangelist. Rather, people had to come to him.

Those so-called “believers” in Jerusalem, that murderous mob, will face their judgment on the Great Day for the roadblocks they put in the path of a very faithful minister of the gospel.

EDIT: Feb 2019. I devote a large portion of a new article, The Day of the LORD, to the topic of what will take place with and for national Israel in the future.
]

 


Romans 11

If you began a study of NT history, but had read only the book of Acts, you’d probably assume that Paul harbored ill feelings toward the Jews. (After all, as I showed here, the Jews attempted at least 6 times to murder him!) And, the record of the Acts is pretty clear: the Jews, as a nation and culture, were violently opposed to the gospel.

However, the Epistle to the Romans, besides being a theological masterpiece, also clearly shows just how deeply the Apostle was concerned for his national brethren.

In chapter 10 we have one of the clearest, and most beautiful, expressions of the gospel found in the NT:

Rom 10.8-13
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

And, that gospel is equally powerful to save both Jews and Gentiles—"whoever will call upon the Lord”. But, nationally, the Jews rejected and opposed the gospel, in contrast to the multitude of Gentiles who embraced it:

Rom 10.19-21
But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you.”
And Isaiah is very bold and says,
“I was found by those who did not seek Me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

And so ends chapter 10; truly, it is an ominous note for the Jews. But, by the Lord’s free grace, that wasn’t the end of the matter! Notice how chapter 11 begins:

Rom 11.1-2a
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew.

As I noted above, the LORD never forsakes His promises!

The LORD chose Israel, and He will complete His work with and in them, in spite of their characteristic obstinance. (Psa 89.34-37) As the Apostle continues his argument, he reaches back to the history of Elijah and the fact that the Israel of his day rejected the LORD:

Rom 11.3-5
“Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.

Make no mistake: to oppose the LORD carries with it grave consequences, something which national Israel has borne many times (the Apostle quotes from the well-known imprecatory Psalm 69):

Rom 11.7-10
What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.”
And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, and bend their backs forever.”

These are very sobering words. If the eleventh chapter ended here, you’d easily assume that the LORD had forsaken Israel forever. But, that is not the case:

Rom 11.11
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous

The Apostle recognized something of the way the LORD worked in the Israel of his day; He chose to make national Israel jealous of the Gentiles through the gospel of free grace!

Rom 11.12-14
Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.

National Israel had always been (and still is!) the center of the LORD’s work in the world, and that included both the evangelists as well as the intended recipients of the message of the gospel of grace. Remember, when the Lord Christ initially sent out His disciples:

Mat 10.6
These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Now, because of their continued obstinance and rebellion, the LORD moved the responsibilities of preaching the gospel to "all nations" from the Jews to Gentiles.

This is exactly the point the Apostle made as he continued with something very sobering: national Israel had been removed from their position of privilege and the LORD gave it to the Gentiles instead:

Rom 11.17
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree …

The Apostle warned his Gentile readers against falling into the same trap the Jews had: they must not arrogantly assume that their position of privilege comes without genuine faithfulness and obedience to the attendant responsibilities. Notice how the Apostle completes the warning of verse 17 with one even more terrifying—this time to the Gentiles:

Rom 11.18-21
do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

Verse 21 is critical here:

“…for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.”

The Apostle states clearly that the original branch, Israel, was not spared: they were “broken off”! And the same fate awaits the Gentile church if they fall into the same pattern of practical contempt for the gospel as that demonstrated by the Jews.

[This is a very important point to which I will return below.]

But, Paul’s argument is not yet complete:

Rom 11.22-23
Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

The Jews who were privileged to see with their own eyes the miracles of the Lord Christ, those who heard His gracious words with their own ears, those people as a culture and nation soundly rejected Him and ultimately murdered Him. Moreover, the Jews who became Christians, unfortunately, showed the gospel the same type of practical contempt when, in complete disobedience to the Lord Christ’s command, insisted on speaking to Jews only and actively rejected their Gentile brethren as “full Christians” with whom they should be of “one mind”.

Both groups were “broken off” for their arrogance! And, of course, the latter will share a greater guilt because their divine privilege was even greater than the former. The LORD loves the gospel of grace and spared no means to bring that gospel to His people; He holds all in contempt who denigrate, distort, ignore, etc., that gospel it in any way!

There is a vital OT principle revealed very clearly in the prophet Isaiah:

Isa 6.8-10
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said,
“Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’
Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.

It is a well-established principle that the LORD may choose to reveal truth in such a way as to obscure its meaning. This is seen clearly here, in the gospel of Matthew:

Mat 13.10-14
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled

[When I was in Bible college, some of the teachers there held the gravely mistaken and incredibly foolish notion that the Lord used parables as “real-world illustrations”, something that modern preachers should emulate in their sermons. Apparently, those teachers never read with understanding this text from Matthew chapter 13 (or its parallel passages).

The Lord used parables to hide the truth, not illustrate it! And we know that fact because He told us directly that He did so!]

The Lord’s use of parables shows clearly that the Jews of His day were under judgment: they were exposed to the truth but not given real understanding of that truth. Nonetheless, their exposure to the truth rendered them fully culpable to it.

[The same principle can be found in other passages of Scripture, most notably Romans chapter 1, vv. 24, 26, and 28 in which unbelievers are “given over” to their sin.]

Indeed! “Behold then the kindness and severity of God …”

The Apostle continues his warning to the Gentiles:

Rom 11.25
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimationthat a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;

The Divine plan was in place and working: the Jews, because of their unrelenting obstinance, had experienced a judgment of hardening which did not allow them to understand or accept the gospel of grace. The Gentiles who as a culture accepted and believed the gospel in large numbers must be very careful to recognize that Divine grace was at work —they must not become arrogant and begin thinking

“We must be better than the Jews. Just look at what has happened; we believed, but they rejected! The Lord is saving us in large number while the Jews languish.”

The Jews did indeed languish—by Divine design, not because the Gentiles had been so receptive to the gospel (and, therefore, perhaps considered themselves worthy?). But, Israel’s time for recovery would come at a time yet future:

Rom 11.26-27
and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.
This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

As I noted above, national Israel will be restored when the “fullness of the Gentiles” (v25) is complete, though currently:

Rom 11.28
From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;

As I also noted above, the Lord never breaks a promise, as Paul just stated with the phrase “… for the sake of the fathers”. What is this? The Divine promise made to Abram, then repeated to Isaac and Jacob: in Israel, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed”. (Gen 12.3)

But, the Apostle is frequently direct and bold. Here is one of the most powerful of any of the declarations of Scripture:

Rom 11.29
for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

The LORD made Abram a promise of immense scope. That promise will be fulfilled; it can’t be otherwise because the LORD’s “gifts and calling are irrevocable”! Israel will be restored at the proper time; but that time will have to wait until the Lord has finished His work with and among the Gentiles, that is, the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom 11.25).

 


Romans chapter 11 is one of the most powerful and terrifying chapters of any in the NT. If you’ve spent any time on my site you know that one of the main purposes of SolaScripturaToday.org is to call out those so-called “Christian” leaders and teachers who really demonstrate only a "passing interest" in the Scripture and therefore regularly teach error from their pulpits or classrooms.

Many years ago I came to the sobering conclusion that real, true Christianity in America in the 21st century is all but dead. An overwhelming majority of those who occupy positions of leadership within that which calls itself evangelical Christianity are false teachers.

This really should not surprise us; the Lord has always worked in and with the remnant rather than the majority.

We face the same reality as the Apostle Paul. Note carefully what he says here:

2 Cor 11.12-14
But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

Indeed, as Solomon taught (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit!) about three millennia ago, “… there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1.9) The problem is that the majority of those who consider themselves Christians really have nearly no idea of what true Christianity really is; they’re even less aware that the vast majority of them will hear these terrifying words at a point in time during which it is too late to repent. By that point in time, their doom is sealed:

Mat 7.21-23
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

This will happen!

And by the Lord’s own words, it will be a minority who arrive at heaven:

Mat 7 13-14
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

To the vast majority of American “Christians”, these texts are thought not to apply, or to be archaic, symbolic or obsolete. “Why, look around!” they say. “Isn’t there an abundance of churches, each attended by hundreds or thousands of people who gather every Sunday?”

This is very true; multiple ten-thousands meet together every Sunday morning. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that the majority of them are "spiritual corpses"!

Yet, the sobering truth is that most of them have no idea why they do so and couldn’t form a coherent, consistent, biblical statement of sound doctrine if their lives depended on it. Most “Christians” simply refuse to consider the texts above—if they have ever read them in the first place; it is nearly certain they never hear them from the pulpit.

As the Scripture says, there is an implicit collusion between pulpit and pew in this deplorable arrangement:

2 Tim 4.3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Your response at this point might be, “But, what does that have to do with Romans chapter 11?”

Literally everything!

Let’s revisit a portion of our text:

Rom 11.17-21
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

There are a pair of inarguable truths in this short section:

  1. The Lord ripped His work away from the Jews and gave it to the Gentiles to continue until their “time had fully come”; at that point (as shown above) the LORD will complete His work in Israel.
  2. Paul warned the Gentile Christians of his day to not fall into the same trap of arrogance experienced by the Jews! Just as the Jews had been judged unworthy of the gospel, the same fate would fall upon the Gentiles should they likewise became careless.

Today, it is true that the Bible is attacked by all manner of secularism and so-called “science”. However, these attacks pale when compared to the attacks waged by those who dare to call themselves "Christians"! Regularly, they

  • appoint as elders those who do not meet the qualifications;
  • show active contempt to the Scripture by refusing to teach and preach the “whole counsel of God” (Act 20.27), choosing rather to “cherry-pick” texts which happens to fit the du jour vagaries of their congregation;
  • divide the Scripture into “essential” and “non-essential” doctrine;
  • substitute an emasculated notion of “fellowship” instead of being obedient to the repeated commands to “be of one mind”;
  • conduct their “worship service” according to tradition instead of the model presented by the NT epistles (particularly those of the Apostle Paul, who left divinely-inspired instructions on the topic);
  • avoid detailed, in-depth Bible studies or systematic theology;
  • substitute the “study” of nearly anything else instead of the direct study of the Bible;
  • frequently add to and/or remove from to the gospel of grace to make it more palatable to modern ears;
  • assume that the lost can be saved merely if they are exposed to adequate “proofs of the truth of the Bible” (so-called Evangelistic Apologetics);
  • assume that good audio/visual presentations will fill their churches (which they do—with the lost who stay lost since the true gospel is missing!);
  • either embrace the theory of evolution, or at the very least, do not regard the first eleven chapters of Genesis as truth, choosing instead to view them as religious myth;
  • assume that “truth” is relative—including Bible truth—and must be interpreted as needed and/or wanted [the difference between “This is what the Bible says.” and “This is what the Bible says to me (of course, it might say something entirely different to you).”];
  • denigrate and distort the Bible in ways both subtle and direct—and that without fear of judgment!

There are, of course, many other miserable characteristics of that which calls itself “Christian”, but these should suffice; two millennia of malaise has taken its toll!

It this assessment is true—and I believe certainly that it is—then one would be hard-pressed to prove from the Scripture that the LORD has not already ripped the gospel away from the Gentiles. The so-called gospel preached by modern “Christians” is as useless today as legalism was in the first century. Both are distortions of Bible truth and both are accursed.

In a section of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul teaches of what the future holds, he made this sobering statement:

2 Tim 3.13
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Πονηροὶ δὲ ἄνθρωποι καὶ γόητες προκόψουσιν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, πλανῶντες καὶ πλανώμενοι.

The noun translated “impostor” (γόητες) is too weak to convey the full meaning of the Greek γόης [G1114: enchanter, deceiver, imposter].

Additional information on this important noun is found in a pair of standard, well-known Greek-language reference tools:

The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament
Moulton and Milligan
Eerdmans Publishing Company
1930
“In P Hib I. 5218(c. B.C. 245) we find Ὧρος Πνᾶτος ἱερεύς γόητες, on which the editors remark that if γόητες is a genitive, then ‘we must suppose the existence of a deity called “the Wizard”; if a nominative (of an unknown form), it is a very curious epithet to apply to a priest.’” [emphasis mine]


Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
Editor: G. Kittel
Eerdmans Publishing Company
1964, 1993

Volume 1, ppg. 737-738:
γόης : This mostly has a. the strict sense of ‘magician,’ esp. one who works with verbal formulae. Those who believe in demons take him quite seriously, though he is sometimes detested, esp. by the educated. … The only distinction between μάγος and γόης is that the latter is mostly used for the lower practitioner. ‘To goetia belong conjurations, since it normally works with the help of evil, lower and stupid material demons.’ … It thus comes to denote ‘charlatan’ in a more general sense …

For Philo γοητεία is basically the opposite of truth. It may thus be used as a equivalent of falsehood or deception, even where there is not the slightest suggestion of magic. … Philo is not thinking only of harmless deception; γοητεία (like γόης) always carries with it the thought of deliberate deceit.

In the NT the only occurrence is at 2 Tim 2.13. In Eur. Ba., 234 Dionysius is called a γόης, obviously in the sense of one who entices to impious action by apparently pious words, and this is the meaning in 2 Tim 3.13.” [emphasis mine]

Could there be any better description of those who stand in the pulpit in their churches or preside over their Sunday School classes than these? The characteristics of the current “church” is exactly what the Holy Spirit declared nearly two millennia ago. The so-called church is being lead by those who are religious charlatans, hiding behind their pious language and methods.

But, the LORD has the final say: these leaders are themselves deceived to the same extent that they deceive others.

2 Pet 2.1-3
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

Judgment awaits them and will find them!

By any true, biblical metric you desire to use, the church in America is all-but-dead. It’s corporate unfaithfulness to the gospel of grace has caused to the LORD to rip away that gospel and give it to others. Short of a miracle of national repentance by those who call themselves “church leaders” and “church members”, our national doom is sure.

Comments powered by CComment