Gather With the Saints

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 KJV).

“The house of God” of today’s Scripture does not refer to a church building, but the group of saints that meets in that building. “Church” in the Bible always refers to a group of God’s people, never to a stone or wooden structure. God designed the local church so we could have an assembly to fellowship with like-minded believers in Christ. Today’s Scripture encourages Timothy (and us) to gather with the saints.

While in Troas (northwestern Turkey), the Apostle Paul fellowshipped with the saints, “Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus” (Acts 20:4). Verse 7 says, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”

Notice that first-century saints fellowshipped by eating a meal together and listening to Bible preaching. Interestingly, Paul’s preaching “until midnight” caused Eutychus to literally fall asleep, falling from the third loft to his death (Paul raised this “church sleeper” in verses 10-12)!

Since we are under grace and not law (Romans 6:14,15), we are not obligated to go to church (going to church is not Sabbath day keeping). We go to church willingly. Why? God designed the local church to “perfect” (mature) the saints and “edify” (build up) the Body of Christ with sound Bible teaching so they can then share what they learned with the lost (Ephesians 4:12).

If you get an opportunity to meet with the grace brethren, make every attempt to attend. You will be greatly edified and encouraged by hearing some sound preaching from the rightly divided Word and seeing God’s grace and Word working in the lives of others!

We Will Not Hearken Unto Thee!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done…” (Jeremiah 44:16,17 KJV).

Israel’s women are “burning incense unto other gods” while their husbands say nothing (verse 15). Shame! So, in Jeremiah chapter 44, the word of the LORD comes to the prophet. God instructs Jeremiah to command Israel to quit worshipping those pagan gods because worse judgment will come (verses 3-5, 11-14). We read the Jews’ response to Jeremiah in today’s Scripture: “No thanks, Jeremiah! We will not listen to the LORD. We will do whatever we want!!”

Noah warned of an impending global flood, preaching for all the world’s peoples to come into the ark for salvation. Millions replied, “No thanks, Noah!” Consequently, only Noah and his seven relatives were saved in the ark (2 Peter 2:5).

Early in Christ’s earthly ministry, many of Israel’s religious leaders refused John the Baptist’s water baptism, a Jew’s only means of salvation (Luke 7:29,30). “No thanks, John!” And with that, they allowed Herod to behead John.

When God the Son Jesus Christ came, many Jews said, “No thanks, Jesus!” Ultimately, they demanded Rome crucify Him (John 19:15).

As the prophet Stephen witnessed to Israel just a year after Calvary, Israel was still “stiffnecked” (stubborn) and “uncircumcised in heart and ears” (wicked, lost) (Acts 7:51). Israel refused to admit that they murdered their Messiah Jesus. “No thanks, Stephen!” And with that, they stoned Stephen.

God’s messengers have always been ignored, hated, and ridiculed, so we should expect nothing less when we share the message of God’s grace to us in Christ. When confronted with the world’s snide remarks, we Christians reply: “We will not hearken unto thee!” We ignore their silly comments and continue preaching, rejoicing that we can endure the rejection just like the saints of old did.

A Wee Crook with a Large Sin Debt

Monday, August 29, 2011

“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:5-7 KJV).

As Luke chapter 19 opens, the Lord Jesus is passing through Jericho, just north of the Dead Sea. The chief tax collector, Zacchaeus, a short man who cannot see over the crowds, has climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus (verses 3 and 4). Once Jesus calls Zacchaeus to make room for Him in his home, the crowds complain, “Jesus seeks to be a guest in that crook’s house!”

Jesus, being God in the flesh, knows Zacchaeus is the chief publican, the most dishonest tax collector. Of all places, why has Christ chosen to visit a thief’s home? He knows Zacchaeus is genuinely repentant. Zacchaeus confesses, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (verse 8). Lord, whatever money I stole, I will restore it four times over!

The Lord Jesus explains why He went to Zacchaeus’ home: “This day is salvation come to this [Zacchaeus’] house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (verses 9 and 10). “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). Jesus went because wicked Zacchaeus, like every other Jew, needs salvation!

Christ came to “save His people [Israel] from their sins,” and that included Zacchaeus (Matthew 1:21; cf. Matthew 10:6; Matthew 18:11). Zacchaeus had been a crooked son of Abraham, but now that he trusted in Jesus as His Messiah, he was a righteous son of God (John 1:12)!

So, God can save anyone, even wee crooks with large sin debts….

Something More Evil Than Science

Sunday, August 28, 2011

“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mark 7:9 KJV).

Many Christians complain that science accomplishes Satan’s work because it brainwashes kids into believing lies such as an old universe and the ridiculous “molecules-to-man” theory (that all living creatures descended from a common ancestor). Indeed, Satan has used science to mislead the masses, but these fervent church members seldom realize that religion, not science, is Satan’s “favorite hiding place.”

Science is the study of the natural world. The Bible is not anti-science—repeatable, testable, falsifiable science. God’s Word is opposed to “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20), man’s idle speculations that contradict Scripture. Apart from its numerous silly, unbiblical conjectures, science is not evil. But there is something more evil than science.

Something far more dangerous and misleading than “science falsely so called” is the infamous “Christianity falsely so called.” Religious tradition is more deceptive than false science because the Bible is used to teach some of it (the Bible cannot be used to teach false science). Religion is dangerous because, unlike false science, it has a godly appearance.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ rebuked Israel’s religious leaders (notice He condemned the religious community, not the scientific community): “well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Church tradition and false science are equally guilty of contradicting the Scriptures.

Scientists without God know they need God, whereas religious people are deceived into thinking they have God (all they really have is empty tradition). Scientists know they are not good enough for heaven, but religious people have been taught they are good enough. It has been appositely stated that, “Religion will send more people to hell than anything else.” Religion will do more harm to your soul than false science ever will because religion encourages you to pit your “righteousness” against God’s.

Many genuine Christians condemn science as “evil,” yet they have no idea that Satan is working just as heavily in their denominational church as he is in the science classrooms. Frightening!

Be not deceived… by false science or religion!

At Least the Angels Are Listening

Saturday, August 27, 2011

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” (Ephesians 3:9,10 KJV).

In the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and the first eight chapters of Acts, God spoke of His purpose and plan for the earth. That prophetic program focused on the nation Israel and an earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:34) “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21).

But, during that time, God kept a secret, “the mystery,” “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:7,8). When the ascended Lord Jesus Christ saved Saul of Tarsus and made him Paul the Apostle in Acts chapter 9, the Lord revealed that information to Paul: “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…” (Romans 16:25,26a).

Paul’s epistles alone reveal this mystery (secret) program (Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:24-27). Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon speak of God’s purpose and program for the heaven, which encompasses our present-day Dispensation of Grace, a heavenly kingdom, and the Church the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2:6,7).

According to today’s Scripture, we members of the Body of Christ share the goal of the Apostle Paul: “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery….” Our goal is not only to proclaim to people this now-revealed information in Paul’s epistles, but also to make it known to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places.”

God’s angels observe us Christians. They understand what God is doing today by listening to us teach and preach God’s Word rightly divided. While most church members care not to listen to the rightly divided King James Bible, and the denominationalists dislike us for exposing their church tradition, at least the angels are listening to us. 🙂

Thou That Judgest Doest the Same Things

Friday, August 26, 2011

“Therefore thou are inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1 KJV).

For over 1500 years, the nation Israel was under the Mosaic Law. Israel knew exactly what God demanded: “Behold, thou are called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;…” (Romans 2:17,18).

During that period of time, Israel was arrogant toward the Gentiles (non-Jews). In the Jews’ minds, Gentiles were godless sinners, foolish pagans who ate disgusting foods and worshipped wooden and stone idols. Yet, in reality, the Jews were hypocrites, just as sinful because they were guilty of worshipping those same silly idols throughout the Bible (Exodus 32:1-10; Jeremiah 44:15-19; Hosea 4:1-19; Acts 7:39-43; et al.)!

“For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you [Israel], as it is written” (Romans 2:24). The Gentiles would speak evil of God when they saw Israel’s wickedness, so Jews could never claim to be less sinful than Gentiles. “What then? are we [Jews] better than they [Gentiles]? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;” (Romans 3:9).

The Pharisees and Sadducees of Christ’s day referred to “publicans and sinners” (Matthew 9:11 et al.), yet Jesus called these religious leaders “hypocrites” (Matthew 15:7 et al.). Whether priests, presidents, potentates, professors, pastors, peasants, princes, paupers, or popes, all are under sin. Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. We are all inexcusable because the Law condemns us all (Romans 3:19,20).

May we never get the self-righteous, pharisaical attitude. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We all have the potential to commit every sin of the flesh, so never say, “I would not do what they did….”

Jesus Christ did not die to save the worst of us; He died to save all of us.

At a Loss for Words in Prayer

Thursday, August 25, 2011

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26 KJV).

Prayer is simply you speaking to God about your life in light of His Word. The Bible exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But, what about when you cannot seem to pray, when you cannot seem to adequately express your concern in words?

There will come times in your life—if you have not experienced them yet—when your troubling circumstances and your emotions will cloud your thinking. As emotions attempt to dominate your life, your troubled mind becomes confused and fearful. It seems like you forget every Bible verse you memorized. Your mind seems overwhelmed with difficult or confusing circumstances. You are at a loss for words and cannot seem to pray. One Christian aptly termed this “the night season.”

Today’s Scripture explains that one of the roles of the Holy Ghost in our lives as believers is that He prays for us and intercedes for us to God our Father. One of our weaknesses (“infirmities”) is that we do not know for what to pray—the Bible says we “ought” to know, but we do not know. When we know not for what to pray, God the Holy Spirit does! We need to take comfort in that if no one else is praying for us, the Holy Spirit cares enough to pray for us.

In such difficult times you need to talk to your heavenly Father in prayer. Tell Him you are confused (Paul used the term “perplexed” in 2 Corinthians 4:8). Tell God your Father that you have no idea what to do in this troubling or complex situation, but that you trust His Word when it says that His Holy Spirit is praying for you and interceding for you. The Holy Ghost knows your concerns, and He will express those concerns to your heavenly Father because He is never at a loss for words in prayer….