We Are Ambassadors for Christ

Sunday, July 31, 2011

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 KJV).

In the context of today’s Scripture (verses 14-21), the Apostle Paul describes our “Great Commission.” Why has God (temporarily) left us saints here?

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15). Saints, we are alive physically. But Christ died to give us His life, so we are also spiritually alive.

We died on Calvary’s cross with Christ (Romans 6:6). We live not for our glory, but unto the glory of Christ whose life is now in us. God left us, the Body of Christ, on earth so we could be “ambassadors,” His servants in this foreign land where we do not belong (Ephesians 2:19-22; Philippians 3:20).

God is doing something amazing today in this the Dispensation of Grace. As His children in Christ Jesus we should participate in what He is doing by placing our faith in His Word to us (Paul’s epistles). It is our “reasonable service” to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).

As we tarry in this world, waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ to snatch us away, He has entrusted us with the message of His grace. God wants to utilize us to demonstrate His grace, His glory, and His life to the world. As God’s children, it is our responsibility to tell the lost world that God has reconciled them unto Himself by Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork.

We have “the ministry of reconciliation,” the Christian ambassadorship, to share the “word of reconciliation,” the gospel of grace (2 Corinthians 5:18,19): that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and raised again for their justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

In Paul’s epistles we learn the true meaning of “ambassadors for [the risen] Christ.”

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*As “ambassadors for the risen Christ Ministries” (arC Ministries) celebrates its fourth anniversary today, we want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have labored with us in the gospel. It has been a privilege, and we look forward to serving you for another year (Lord willing). Thank you for your continued prayer. –Shawn Brasseaux

Using the Law Lawfully

Saturday, July 30, 2011

“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;” (1 Timothy 1:8 KJV).

In this the Dispensation of Grace, how does a man use the Mosaic Law “lawfully?” Paul continues in verses 9 and 10: “…the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 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;”

The function of the Mosaic Law is to show us we cannot measure up to God’s standard of righteousness (rightness). Galatians 2:16 says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the law shall no flesh be justified.”

God’s Word says in Romans 3:19,20: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Galatians 3:24,25 says, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

Using the Law lawfully in this the Dispensation of Grace means to recognize our sinfulness and Jesus Christ’s sinlessness. The Mosaic Law shows us that we cannot be justified (made right before God) through our works. It points us to the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Law points us to salvation in Jesus Christ and His fulfilling the Law perfectly.

Do you use the Law lawfully?

Ye Must Be Followers of Paul

Friday, July 29, 2011

“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1 Corinthians 4:16 KJV).

Paul is the only Bible author that declares, “Follow me.” Why? Paul writes in Ephesians 3:2,3a: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he [Jesus Christ] made known unto me the mystery;”

Today, we live in the Dispensation of Grace, a time period separate from Israel’s prophetic program. In 1 Timothy 1:15,16 we read that God made Paul “a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him [Jesus Christ] to life everlasting.” In order to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in this the Dispensation of Grace, we must follow Him according to the doctrine He committed unto the Apostle Paul’s trust.

We do not follow Christ after His earthly ministry because that was God’s message to Israel (Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 5:16). Even the Apostle Peter admitted that the details of the Dispensation of Grace are only found in Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon (2 Peter 3:15,16).

Lest someone accuse us of exalting Paul above Jesus Christ, consider what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” The Holy Spirit instructs us to follow Paul in Philippians 3:17 and 1 Thessalonians 1:6. We follow Paul as he follows Christ.

God sent Paul to us. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11). Just as Israel followed Moses, we follow Paul. To follow Paul today is to follow Christ; conversely, to reject Paul is to reject Christ (John 13:20). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:37: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”

Does your pastor follow Jesus according to His earthly ministry? If so, flee from that assembly, friend. That is not what God is doing today. The Bible says that God made Paul our pattern. If ye are to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, ye must be followers of Paul!

Fallen from Grace?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4 KJV).

Today’s Scripture has been greatly misunderstood, often being used to support the idea of loss of salvation. The Galatians were saved because Paul called them “brethren” nine times (1:11, 3:15, 4:12, 4:28, 4:31, 5:11, 5:13, 6:1, 6:18).

“Fallen from grace” describes many Holy Spirit-indwelt Christians today. They are saved, eternally secure in Christ Jesus, but like the poor Galatians, they have fallen prey to denominationalism. They have inadvertently or deliberately abandoned God’s grace to us in Christ. Sadly, they prefer Israel’s legalistic program of time past.

Galatians 3:1-3 could be written to today’s average “Bible-believing” church: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”

Protestant and Catholic churches force their members to keep the Mosaic Law in order to gain favor with God. Are we saved by keeping the Law? No. We are saved by God’s grace, apart from our works (Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:5). How do our Christian lives operate? On the basis of Law? No. Our Christian lives operate by Christ living in and through us, not us living the Christian life (Galatians 2:20).

“I do not frustrate [hinder, make of no effect] the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21). The way you prevent God’s grace from operating in your Christian life is to force yourself back under Israel’s yoke of bondage, the Mosaic Law. At that point, your Christian life will be utterly destroyed, like the Galatians’.

Brethren, do not fall from grace. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

Stiffnecked, Gainsaying, and Disobedient

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21 KJV).

Israel was God’s chosen people in the earth but they were just as stubborn and rebellious as the pagan Gentiles described in Romans 1:18-32. In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:2 (in which the LORD says): “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;”

Verse 3 continues, “A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;…” Israel ignored the LORD and preferred the Gentiles’ pagan gods! How sad.

For 40 years Moses led the nation Israel in the wilderness wanderings. Their murmuring and rebellion against the LORD caused Moses great distress (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2; Exodus 17:1-4; et al.). The Bible describes Israel as “stiffnecked” (stubborn) eight times in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3,5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13; Deuteronomy 10:16; 2 Chronicles 30:8). Miraculously, God in His longsuffering tolerated the Jews.

Unfortunately, Israel acted no better in the New Testament. She refused to listen to her Messiah Jesus and His apostles. Ultimately, she killed her Messiah in disobedience (1 Peter 2:7,8). In Acts 7:51 the prophet Stephen tells Israel’s religious leaders: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Did the Jews repent and obey God? No. They rebel and kill Stephen (verse 59)!

Before we condemn Israel for her wickedness, we need to understand we are just as much Adam’s physical descendants as they were. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Even as Christians, we rebel against God and His Word (see Romans chapter 7).

We too may be stiffnecked, gainsaying, and disobedient, but praise God for His longsuffering, grace, mercy, and forgiveness

Autographs and Apographs

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written…” (Luke 4:16,17 KJV).

The original Bible manuscripts written by the prophets and apostles are non-extant today. Either by means of disintegration or intentional destruction, those autographs have disappeared. Today, there are 5,500-plus manuscript copies of those Greek New Testament autographs. Alas, theologians relegate these copies to an inferior position to the originals. Do manuscript copies (apographs) possess the same authority as the original manuscripts (autographs)?

In today’s Scripture, the Lord Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah. Did Christ read from the original, 700-year-old document that Isaiah penned? In Acts 8:26-35 both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch also read the scroll of Isaiah. Should we conclude that Christ and the Ethiopian eunuch shared the lone scroll of Isaiah? Preposterous! Both were manuscript copies.

Did Timothy’s family possess the original Old Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15-17)? Was Paul quoting from the original manuscripts of Isaiah and Hosea (Romans 9:25-29)?

Note that whenever Israel’s king would assume the throne, God instructed: “He shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:… and he shall read therein all the days of his life…” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). God instructed the king to study his copies, not the original manuscripts.

Psalm 12:6,7, Psalm 33:11, Matthew 24:35, and Mark 13:31 are but a few examples of God’s promise: “My words shall not pass away.” The Bible says that God has preserved His words. Undoubtedly, immediately after an autograph was completed, it was copied and distributed. Although the autographs and their first copies have disintegrated, their text is preserved today in subsequent apographs.

The original manuscripts have been gone for centuries. God’s words must exist today in manuscript copies. The autographs and apographs are equal.

Christ Which Strengtheneth Me

Monday, July 25, 2011

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is often misconstrued. People take this verse out of its context and misunderstand it. Does this verse mean that God will empower us to do anything and everything (heal the sick, raise the dead, and so on)? This verse has a context, and it is not miracles.

Remember that the Apostle Paul was imprisoned when he wrote to Philippi (1:12-16). Paul was experiencing some rather difficult circumstances, yet notice what he wrote in Philippians 4:11-12, the context of today’s Scripture: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

God never promised us Christians carefree living. Sometimes, we may experience financial burdens while other times we may have material riches. Whether shackled in a Roman prison, or free to do the work of the ministry abroad, Paul could be content. Regardless of our circumstances, God’s Word says that we can endure them in Christ.

Colossians 1:11 says we are “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Where will God strengthen us? God will strengthen us “with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” in our soul (Ephesians 3:16).

We can benefit from trying circumstances, beloved! “We glory [rejoice!] in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).

In moments of heartache or happiness, of poverty or abundance, of sickness or wellness, “we can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us!”

Does the Bible Teach an Old Universe?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

“And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;” (Hebrews 1:10,11 KJV).

Many in the scientific community reject the Bible’s testimony… unless of course, if it seems to agree with their teaching. Today’s Scripture is a favorite amongst those who refuse the idea of a young earth and a young universe. Notice the Bible says that the heavens “shall wax old as doth a garment.” Alas, this wresting of the Scriptures is manifested when we understand the definition of “old.”

When the Bible uses the term “old” to describe the heavens, it does not necessarily equate to billions of years old. Do we always use “old” to describe something extremely ancient? Of course not. A centenarian is 100 years old—is this person “old” when compared to, say, a millennium?  Notice how the Bible said the heavens would “wax [grow] old as doth a garment.” Just how “old” can a garment be? Billions of years old? We use the term “old” to refer to items we have had but a few years (like worn-out clothes).

The Bible terms the Mosaic Covenant (Old Testament) “old” in Hebrews 8:13, yet the Mosaic Covenant is just 3,500 years old. Notice the Bible calls the Mosaic Law “old,” yet it is merely thousands of years old. Just as the Mosaic Law needs to pass away for those Jews of the book of Hebrews, so that the New Covenant can be established (Hebrews 8:8-13), this present heaven and earth need to pass away so a new heaven and a new earth can be brought in (Isaiah 66:23; Hebrews 1:12; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1,4).

We should view today’s Scripture in light of this: “old” in both Hebrews 1:11 and Hebrews 8:13 is not “ancient” but rather referring to their functionality or existence. Both need to pass away, just like the garments (clothes) of today’s Scripture are worn-out (“old”).

10,000 Words of Gibberish

Saturday, July 23, 2011

“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:18,19 KJV).

Religion tells of being “filled with the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.” Tongue talking is certainly Biblical, for the Bible says that certain Christians had the spiritual gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10,28,30). But, is speaking in tongues something we Christians should practice today?

Today church members claim to speak in allegedly “angelic language,” some special prayer language that only God understands. Upon listening to these people “pray in the Spirit,” we conclude it is nothing intelligent: “Hastala shandala hobbla gobbla.” Others repeat, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” This behavior is related to the Oriental religions’ “breath prayers” and uttering the Roman Catholic repetitious rosary. Vain worthless religious nonsense!

Corinth was the most spiritually immature Christian assembly Paul knew. These believers loved feel-good worship services, emotional highs, and being the center of attention (1 Corinthians 14:4,5ff.). Sound familiar? That is much of “the Church” today! Corinth abused spiritual gifts, so Paul devoted three chapters (1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14) to address these problems. Chapter 14 deals entirely with tongue talking.

In today’s Scripture, and verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19, and 27, Paul mentioned speaking in “unknown tongues.” That word “unknown”—absent from modern Bibles—indicates this was not God’s gift of tongues. This was some ecstatic, nonsensical utterance based on emotions: some believers in Corinth just loved to draw attention to themselves by abusing tongues (speaking in gibberish). God’s gift of tongues was always intelligent human languages, dialects (Acts 2:6-11).

Paul stated: “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Talking 10,000 words in gibberish will profit nothing! Speak with intelligence, not some “angelic tongue.”

By the way, the gift of tongues ceased when God’s Word was completed (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).

Must You Confess God Before Men?

Friday, July 22, 2011

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32,33 KJV).

Preachers use today’s Scripture to coerce people to “walk the aisle for Jesus.” Was Christ teaching that we must stand before a church congregation and “make a profession of faith?” No. These are Israel’s verses. They have nothing to do with us in this the Dispensation of Grace.

Read verses 17 and 18: “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”

The little flock, the believing remnant of Israel, will experience great persecution during the seven-year Tribulation. They will have to “endure to the end to be saved” (verse 22; cf. Matthew 24:13). Why must they endure to the end?

During the Tribulation the antichrist will institute the mark “666” (Revelation 13:15-18). Believers will refuse to worship the antichrist’s image and take his mark, so they will be killed. God will damn to everlasting torments those who worship the beast and his image, and those who take his mark in their right hand or in their forehead (Revelation 14:11). At any time, these Jewish believers could believe the antichrist’s lies. They must “endure to the end [of the seven years] to be saved.”

The believing Jews in the Tribulation will have to publicly refuse to worship the antichrist, thereby confessing Christ before men. Those who accept the 666 mark will be damned because they denied Christ before men.

Paul tells us in the Body of Christ: “If we believe not, yet [Jesus Christ] abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Consequently, Matthew 10:32,33 cannot apply to us. We are encouraged to share our testimonies with the lost world, but Matthew 10:32,33 is Israel’s doctrine. Do not be a spiritual thief and take something that God never gave you.