We are working through the book of Romans right now and we just finished up chapter 7. The last verse of chapter 7 seams a little out of place at first. In verse 25 Paul says, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. Now that does not seem out of place unless you consider the first 24 verses. Paul has spent the chapter explaining the problems he has with sin and the constant battle with the old man, his flesh. Then he gets to verse 25 and thanks God. This is typically the opposite of our thought process. Context matters. Paul made an extremely important statement in 6:14 that is carrying through the context. He said, “For sin shall not have dominion over you”. I believe the point Paul is making for us is that we should be THANKFUL FOR THE STRUGGLE OVER OUR SIN. Do you realize where you would be without the struggle? You would be dominated by sin as unsaved people are. The fact that you have the ability to struggle against the flesh and the old man is something to be thankful for. I realize we don’t think about it this way, but Paul was thankful he could struggle over the flesh and is in the position to win this fight. Here is where I believe this chapter should motivate us in an amazing way. Paul struggled with sin every day and still accomplished amazing things for God. Why? Because he made the decision to MOVE FORWARD while in the midst of struggling over his sin. I can tell you this, if I would have waited to be perfect before starting our church, I would still be waiting. I will tell you this also; if you keep waiting to be perfect and you no longer struggle with sin to do something for God, you will NEVER accomplish anything for him. If you think you are not in a position to be used of God because you are struggling over some things, I challenge you to study Romans chapter 7 and its context closely. Paul is not saying that you should live in immorality and try to serve God at the same time. He IS SAYING, it’s important to keep “pressing towards the mark” while you are constantly fighting off the old man. If you feel like you are in a constant battel with sin, then you are in the fight just like Paul is describing in detail. Paul did not just focus on the struggle, he said he was thankful for it. Paul pressed ahead while in this battle and accomplished great things for God. YOU CAN TOO! Do you seriously think the preachers and teachers you have looked up to were perfect? They weren’t, and neither are you or I. We need to be thankful we can battle the flesh, and then get engaged in accomplishing something while we are here on the earth. The struggle should not stop you from serving, it should enable you to serve. Maybe if we would have heard a little less DO’S and DON’TS constantly in church and were told the struggle is normal, then we might have been engaged a long time ago. Proper doctrine matters! Understanding Paul’s doctrine about this struggle is a vital part of the Christian walk. Are you walking and working while in this struggle? You should be!
Confusion abounds in Christianity. I am not saying that Christians are ready and willing to admit this. Christians sit in their churches each Sunday listening to the same verses used over and over again to teach the truth as they see it. One of the most useful things I ever did is to study the doctrine of all the other denominations besides mine. I discovered that they also had verses to prove different conclusions than I held. In an honest Christian looking for truth this should cause pause at least and really should cause doubt. Thankfully I did not stick my head in the sand and pretend I never seen this elephant in the room. Thankfully I decided for myself that there must be an answer to the confusion. Thankfully I was willing to admit that I could be wrong. This trait is quite rare. In my experience, most Christians know they don’t really understand the Bible but are not willing to admit they could be wrong. I had a eye-opening experience that really made me realize the extent of the problem. As a Deacon in a Baptist church, I took part in revising a church constitution. Part of this project was to take a look at the Statement of Faith. What I studied during this project was the list of the “Fundamentals” or the “Baptist Distinctives” or whatever you want to call them. Here is what you most likely will find if you have the guts to try it, A statement sometimes followed by 20 or more verses to prove the statement. At a glance this seamed quite impressive. You would look at that long list of verses and think to yourself, this no doubt is an easily proven fact. Here is what I found out after helping to revise the Constitution and statement of faith in 2 different Baptist churches. You and I were being bluffed into thinking all those verses actually prove the statement. What I found was the first few verses were clearly about the context of the statement. But the further you got from the clear verses you found that most of the verses had little or almost nothing to do with proving the statement and were thrown in just to make a long list. Maybe your statement of faith does not look this way? Do you know? There was a period of time when I read the statements of faith of all the major denominations from many different churches. By and large I found this to be true over and over amongst all the ones I read. If you are sitting in a church Sunday after Sunday betting eternity on the chance you picked the correct church or were raised up in the right denomination, you are on thin ice no doubt. There are things you must figure out. These are things that WILL affect your eternity. If those verses listed are found in Israel’s Old Testament and Israel’s New Testament you are in a perilous position. Church doctrine for today comes primarily from your Apostle Paul. Yes, every verse in the Bible is true and accurate as written, but Paul was sent by Jesus directly to you with the message valid today in the age of grace. If your foundation is not built upon Paul’s doctrine, you’re just trusting in man’s opinion. Sadly today, most Christians are completely fine believing their pastor and church creed. They have more important things to do. I implore you to figure these things out for yourself. And when something smells fishy, is usually is. Stop, dig in and keep digging.
One of the responses I regularly hear after I attempt to share the mystery with people is that I am “worshipping Paul.” What I am actually doing is attempting to help people see that they were taught to demean Paul’s position to an unbiblical one. You most likely have been told that Paul is a “missionary” just like I was. Do you know that missionary is not a Bible word? It’s not in scripture. This “Paul the first missionary” myth has been perpetuated over centuries. What we actually should be doing is letting the Bible define Paul’s God given position, authority, and titles. The title given Paul by scripture and thus the Holy Spirit is “Apostle.” Paul no-doubt understood that men with an agenda would demean his character and authority. This is rampant today. We find Paul regularly defending his apostleship throughout his books. Scripture affirms Paul’s apostleship without doubt or debate. Scripture goes beyond this declaring Paul as the “Apostle of the Gentles” (Rom 11:13 + II Tim 1:11) Scripture proves Paul himself had the “signs of an apostle” (II Cor 12:12) Scripture uses the word “apostle” at least 16 times for Paul. What I do is give Paul the position scripture does. What I do is give Paul the authority scripture does. What I do is give Paul the respect scripture does, no more and no less. I am not concerned with the fact that modern Christianity has for hundreds of years not recognized or purposely not given Paul the position scripture does. Modern Christianity is wrong on dozens of points. God has always worked through men in scripture. Moses, Abraham, Judges, Prophets, and Apostles alike. The scriptural FACT is that Paul is the man of authority in this dispensation, because Jesus GAVE HIM that position. I follow Paul so I can be pleasing to Jesus my Lord and Savior. You will be ashamed someday if you do not follow this scriptural command to build upon what Paul built. (Rom 2:16, I Cor 3:10) Tradition has taken the place of proper direction today in churches. Agenda has taken the place of proper instruction in churches. Pride and arrogance keep Christians today from building upon what Jesus is doing through Paul in this dispensation. My intent and desire is for you to fulfill what God desires for your life today. You will NEVER accomplish this outside of giving Paul the place scripture does. He is YOUR APOSTLE. You are to follow HIM today to be pleasing to Jesus. This is the clear teaching of scripture. I pray you would see through all the haze of church agendas and find the liberty we have in Christ.
This past July 2nd was our 6-year anniversary here at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship. Each year has brought challenges and opportunities. Challenges are to be expected. Paul tells us specifically to expect problems if you plan on sharing the clear gospel. The world is full of preachers promising earthly blessings and prosperity. Paul did no such thing. Preachers make millions of dollars telling people that God will pull you from tragedy and trials. Paul does no such thing. Paul tells you that if you plan on being a bible believer and actually teaching the mystery that you can expect the “afflictions of the gospel.” It’s no wonder many preachers steer clear of Paul’s books. There’s not much “good preaching” in his books. The reason you can glory in tribulations as Paul tells you to is that these can be an indicator that you are doing exactly what you should be doing. I often tell our church that you don’t need to pray for God’s will and then “wait” as I was told my whole Christian life. This is horrible advice. “Wait on the Lord” is horrible teaching in this age. God has a purpose, and you have the opportunity to help. God has a plan in place, and he is working out that plan right now. You sitting around praying for God to show you his will is a waste of time. This might sound harsh, but it’s something that drives me crazy that I was told my whole life to pray for God’s will and then wait for him to show me it when it’s actually very clear in plain English in the Bible that was sitting in my lap. God’s clear will at this time is to build a body. He is calling out a people to restore dominion in heavenly places. God’s will is for you to reconcile the world to Christ. God’s will is for you to come to the knowledge of the truth. God’s will is for you to make all men see the fellowship of the mystery. I promise you this. If you start DOING these things, you will never pray for God to show you his will again because you will be doing it. When the challenges come, don’t be surprised. When the opportunities come, TAKE THEM. Terry McLean once said when you hear the boos and jeers, ignore them and when you hear the cheers and applause ignore them too. Just keep moving forward doing the things you know to be right. GOOD ADVISE!! If you plan to get on board with God’s clearly revealed will, expect to use this advice.
Here at church, we are currently working through a study on the fact that we are secure in Christ. As part of this study, I am currently teaching on our redemption that is “in Christ”. As part of the word study for this lesson I looked at all uses of the word redemption and its variants. When I got to the word “redeeming” I noticed neither two uses of the word in the NT is in relation to our salvation. These two instances are actually used to relate a very important admonition to us, the body of Christ. Both of these instances actually deal with how we as Christians relate to the insane world around us. Yes, I said insane. If you don’t agree, you are not very informed. Your freedoms as a Christian and as an American are under attack at an unprecedented and unbelievable rate. I digress….. Ephesians 5:16 tells us as Christians that we must be redeeming the time” Time is probably your most valuable asset. Outside of your salvation, time is the commodity you as a Christian MUST “redeem” (ransom, purchase back) from the world around you. The world around you is presently evil. The world around you has thousands of things to put your time into bondage. This is exactly why Paul’s second use of the word also refers to “redeeming the time” – Col 4:5. Why? We MUST walk in wisdom as we navigate this world. God’s will is that we would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Church today is a scary place to find truth. Today I googled the question: “Examples of people in the Bible that lost their salvation” Very interesting search indeed. What I noticed is that even the people arguing the position I hold CANNOT articulate correct doctrine about eternal security. Confusion about eternal security in Christianity is completely about the lack of rightly dividing the scriptures. The FEW denominations that do believe in eternal security CANNOT properly support their position. John 10 is not about us, or our salvation in this age. I’ll return to the point. Many of us must start redeeming our time. Many of us must start setting some things aside to make room for proper study. Many of us must decide that our kids don’t need to participate in multiple sports. Many of us must decide that the TV is not actually that important. We are given a limited amount of time in this life to come to a knowledge of the truth. Our knowledge matters. What information we gain during this lifetime matters. Let me be clear. I do not study every night. I have hobbies. I have responsibilities outside my church, as do you. I even watch TV sometimes. But I understand this: You will make time to do the things you really want to do. We must ransom some of our time that this world finds uses for and make a decision to accomplish something for the Lord. I’m not trying to pick on you. I’m trying to help you understand that the knowledge you gain here on earth directly correlates to reward at the judgment seat of Christ. No, I’m not talking about “crowns”. I am talking about the responsibility you will be given at that time. Redeem some of that time for the Redeemer and you will be FOREVER grateful you did. Paul’s gospel matters. (Rom 2:16)
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
II Tim 2:24-26
I hope you will consider a few things our Apostle Paul has to say here in his correspondence to Timothy. In these verses Paul instructs teachers to be gentle, patient, meek, and not apt to strive. This is excellent advice. There is a balance to shoot for in instructing others. The balance is to speak the truth “in love.” The balance is to be bold in our stand and in the doctrine we are held accountable to teach by our Apostle and thus Jesus our Savior but yet loving. What I really want you to consider in these verses is the description Paul gives to those Timothy will be teaching. Paul’s description is as pertinent today as it was the day it was penned. Paul tells Timothy that he will be teaching those that “oppose themselves.” I’m sure you have heard the phrase “We are our own worst enemy” Pay close attention to the context of these people that oppose themselves. They are in the snare of the Devil who takes them captive at will. I would challenge you to think about this warning and admonition by Paul. Those that oppose themselves need what Timothy has. Timothy has learned and is supposed to share what Paul taught him. Timothy is also to teach other men this Pauline doctrine so it can be handed down. Churches today are devoid of Paul’s doctrine. Christians today live day by day within the confounds of their “church language.” They utter the slogan phrases as they were taught Sunday after Sunday ignoring the plain and clear divisions scripture teachers us. This church language we all learned and still struggle to clear from our heads is exactly what causes us to oppose ourselves. The tradition we learned from preaching, hymns and praise and worship songs specifically works against a proper understanding of scripture. Satan has used the church itself to hinder Christians at every step, opposing themselves daily through bad doctrine. I implore you to pay more attention to this doctrine that will keep you from being taken by Satan “at his will.” By spending so little time in Paul’s books, Christians are setting themselves up for failure on a daily basis and literally allowing Satan to mislead them. A smart animal can detect where the trapper has been by noticing the scent left behind, the leaves disturbed in and unnatural way, or things that don’t appear to be normal. A Christian grounded and settled in Paul’s doctrine for today can be prepared for Satan’s snares by the knowledge gained by applying scripture as scripture itself instructs us. According to Paul it is possible for them to “recover themselves.” The requirements are to change your mind about what the truth is. Here are the two choices of truth you have: scripture alone, or scripture as taught through man’s agenda. There is a huge difference between these two options. If you cannot believe EVERY VERSE in EVERY CHAPTER in EVERY BOOK exactly AS WRITTEN in scripture then you are trusting in a man’s agenda. Please don’t go on opposing yourself. Paul wrote 13 books to you specifically about recognizing Satan’s snares. Won’t you study them?
1Ti 1:10-11 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
2Ti 1:13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 4:6 ¶ If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
Our Apostle Paul talks more about doctrine than anyone else in the Bible. Paul’s books are chocked full of doctrine from beginning to end. Let me teach you something about the gospel. Paul’s gospel is the clear teaching of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Paul’s gospel however does not stop here. Paul’s gospel is so much more. Timothy learned from Paul that sound doctrine was according to the glorious gospel Paul taught him. This is of course the mystery gospel. The unknown and hidden gospel God had kept hidden in his mind until the time had come to share the grace message to the world. Israel’s final rejection of their Messiah should have and according to prophecy was the final straw. The “acceptable year” had been rejected and the “day of vengeance” was the next thing on God’s prophetic timetable. Jesus’s gospel fully expects and even verifies Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus even explains to his disciples exactly what to do when they see the signs of his coming and the day of God’s vengeance approaching. But this day never happened. Instead, God stopped the prophetic timetable and delivered to Paul a unknown gospel that provides grace to everyone. This gospel was kept hidden because of God’s manifold grace and wisdom. Paul’s gospel explains the only clear gospel for this age but goes so far beyond. Paul’s gospel reveals and clarifies the doctrine we are to follow today in this unforeseen age of the mystery. Satan hates this gospel and everything relating to it. Satan has seen to it that when I preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, that preachers and other Christians despise me for it. Satan has seen to it that when I teach the Bible from a pure literal perspective people call me names and think I’m teaching some strange doctrine. Timothy is told to “take heed” to this doctrine I teach. The Corinthians were told to “take heed” how they build upon what Paul had started lest they lose their reward. I am only asking you to also “take heed” to what Pau is saying. Paul told Timothy to consider what he was teaching and the Lord would give him understanding. I’m asking you to do exactly what scripture clearly does, to take heed to your apostle. Then you too can have the eyes of your understanding enlightened (Eph1:18) Then you to can stop praying for God’s will and actually start doing it. How about it? Will you start believing your Bible over what ANYONE else says? This is exactly what Jesus asks you to do.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to share God’s manifold wisdom with another believer. Even though this person has been in church for many years and has taught and preached, he did not know God’s manifold wisdom. This, sadly, is the state of the majority of Christians today. Most Christians have had ten thousand instructors, (I Cor 4:15) professors, teachers, preachers, deacons, and elders, all teaching them throughout their Christian life and they are no closer to God’s manifold wisdom than they were many years ago. I regularly talk to Christians with decades of Christian experience but little true understanding of proper doctrine. I am not questioning their sincerity, dedication, or love for the Lord. I am telling you as clear as I possibly can that years and years of sitting in fundamental churches today DOES NOT mean you understand your Bible. What I have found over and over is that when the rubber meets the road, I rarely meet Christians that truly feel in their heart of hearts that they understand the Bible. The reason? They don’t understand the mystery. Understanding the mystery revealed to the Apostle Paul is THE KEY to ALL true Biblical understanding. It was Paul that was given the responsibility to share the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Eph 3:8) It was Paul that was given the responsibility to make all men see the fellowship of the mystery. (Eph 3:9) It was Paul that was sent to the Gentiles to share with us the program God kept hidden for ages and generations but is now revealing. (Col 1:26) Why? Why Paul? Jesus DID NOT minister to Gentiles. Jesus was sent here to fulfill everything written about him in the Law and the Prophets. No OT prophet revealed the things Paul did. These things were kept secret on purpose. (Rom 16:25) Here are the facts: Christianity by and large is ignorant of Paul’s mystery and Paul's doctrine. The reason for this is Bible colleges and seminaries don’t teach God’s manifold wisdom. This is the reason preachers don’t know it either. They are all building on the wrong structure. The building Paul built has Christ as the foundation, but Paul is the wise masterbuilder. (I Cor 3:10) and we must all “take heed” how we build thereupon. This warning is about building upon the information Jesus revealed to Paul after Christ’s ministry on earth was over. You are NOT the lost sheep in Jesus’ teaching, Israel is. You are not the subject of the parables, Israel and Israel’s kingdom is. You are not the subject of prophecy, Israel is. These are simple rules for proper Biblical interpretation but create an understanding of scripture you can’t imagine. God would have ALL MEN come to the knowledge of the truth. Most NEVER WILL. The simple reason; not following their apostle. Yes, it is this simple.
I asked this question within the first few weeks of our assembly to our group: Doesn’t everyone take the Bible literally already? If I were to ask most Christians the question, do you take the Bible literally? Or even does your pastor teach the Bible literally, probably all would answer “yes” and “yes”. The actual fact really is probably NO and NO. I would dare say almost every person I have ever went to church with over the years believes that they were taught a literal interpretation of scripture. But the FACT is we were NOT taught the Bible literally in many ways. I will give you a few questions to ask yourself to very quickly determine if you are being taught the Bible literally. 1. Does your pastor spend most time preaching from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Although this does not answer the question definitively it gives you a strong indication he is not teaching literally. 2. Does your pastor teach Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as your marching orders for today? If so, this definitively proves your pastor is spiritualizing the scripture and is NOT teaching literally. If Jesus says his earthly ministry was only to Israel, but your pastor does not teach this, you are being misled. Your pastor is following mainstream Christian doctrine based on Covenant theology and the allegorical interpretation of scripture. 3. Does your pastor grab verses from wherever he wants including the OT and the Hebrew epistles to prove his doctrine? If so, once again, this proves he IS NOT teaching his Bible literally. Please don’t misunderstand. I teach from the OT as well as the Hebrew epistles all the time. The difference is that I teach them WHERE THEY BELONG doctrinally and dispensationally. 4. Does your pastor mix kingdom doctrine and salvation doctrine? Or in other words, does he use “the kingdom” and “heaven” synonymously? If so, I can GUARANTEE he is teaching the allegorical interpretation of scripture. The kingdom is exactly what scripture teaches it is, which is the earthly kingdom promised TO ISRAEL. The body of Christ is promised a future in heavenly places and this IS NOT the same thing as the kingdom. The resultant confusion that Christianity lives in is a direct result of the misguided and allegorized teaching of preachers today that ignore the direct command of scripture to follow their Apostle Paul and to rightly divide the scriptures as instructed.
1Co 1:10 ¶ Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Please read the verse several times. Friend, the verse would not say what is says if this was not possible. This is possible! You will NEVER learn how if your preacher thinks the gospels contain your information about salvation and marching orders for the church today. You can understand the Bible. It will take guts. It will take you deciding you want to. It will take you deciding that you DON”T CARE what others think or say about you. The body of Christ could be fulfilling Paul’s command here if they would just follow the man Jesus himself called and sent TO THEM. YES! It is this simple.
I was recently looking back through some old lessons and started reading the first lesson taught at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship back on July 2 2017, it was called “Introduction”. Wow, that was descriptive of me. The purpose of that first lesson was to introduce people to some clear biblical principles. Sadly, most of which they would have never heard in their church lives up to that point. I am going to write a blog on each point I taught during that introduction here in the next few months. Many of the people in our church never heard that first lesson so I also plan to teach it this coming Sunday. The first point in this lesson was the question: “What are we doing” I went on to describe some principles that we would be following to get a proper understanding of scripture. The First principle was being Pauline in doctrine. This means that we will be following the Bible’s direction to follow the Apostle Jesus sent to us, Paul. All throughout scripture God EXPECTED us, as well as Israel, to follow a man. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Prophets, Judges, Peter. Why is it then that Christians balk at our Biblical imperative to follow Paul today? Sadly, Christianity does not follow their Apostle today. So, we are Pauline in doctrine. In other words, we understand that scripture commands us to follow Paul’s example to Follow Jesus today. The next point was being a Bible Believer. Most Christians think they are. I can show Christians scores of verses they don’t believe. Being a Bible believer means that you believe EVERY verse AS WRITTEN. This is a very rare trait in Christians today. Next was believing the Biblical fact that the church you are a member of, if you are saved, was started with PAUL in the middle of the book of Acts. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of understanding WHEN your church (The body of Christ) was started. So much confusion over such a simple thing. The confusion is taken away when you take a literal stance with scripture. Next was the doctrine of being dispensational. This is a BIBLE word and a BIBLE doctrine. I don’t care how many YouTube videos or articles there are calling me a heretic! I will side with scripture. It is this simple. God has changed the way he has delt with mankind throughout the centuries. Being dispensational simply means that you recognize that God has not always required the same thing of mankind throughout history. If you believe there is a difference in LAW and GRACE, this is a dispensational principle. Next was rightly dividing the scripture. Right division is THE KEY to understanding the entire Bible. I can promise you that every division in Christianity today can be resolved in short order if men would choose to properly divide the scripture as it teaches us to. Sadly today when I try to teach right division to Christians, most refuse to let go of their tradition. Next is being a King James Bible Believer. It’s so sad that preachers today are the worst enemies of Bible belief in many ways. Prideful, arrogant men standing behind pulpits claiming authority because of their higher education. Telling their churches they need one more new version to better understand scripture. This is a bunch of garbage! What Christians need is to be taught how to be Bible believers! I teach this every Sunday. Your new versions based off the corrupt minority text will not help you understand. The Bible works in those that BELIEVE IT. I show Christians every Sunday that the Bible can be believed exactly as it is written. Being a Pauline, Bible believing, Mid-Acts, Dispensational, Right Divider of a King James Bible IS the answer to your Bible questions. Stay tuned to my “Introduction” blog series if you have the guts to actually believe scripture over what you have always heard. Sad but true that there is a difference.
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul