A Memory and a Reality

Saturday, December 31, 2011

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12 KJV).

What a prosperous ministry year it has been, beloved! How we thank our heavenly Father for the opportunities we had to teach, verbally and through writing, the precious truths of His Word to family, friends, acquaintances, professors, classmates, and complete strangers. We can only wonder how many souls were edified and saved worldwide.

Interestingly, during the past year, our newspaper ministry, this devotional blog’s “predecessor,” saw its final months. We are grateful to have had opportunity to publish Bible studies in a weekly newspaper column. (A few weeks after that avenue was discontinued in May, this devotional blog was launched. So, had the newspaper column not been cancelled, you would have never even read this blog!)

Despite the great stress, extreme heartache, persecution, and months of severe depression, we rejoice that the Gospel of the Grace of God still went forth for His glory. We agree with our Apostle Paul, who wrote in today’s Scripture that God’s Word will be published, especially during difficult times. In Paul’s case, God allowed Paul to be imprisoned so he could preach the Gospel there (Philippians 1:7,13,14)! Indeed, our suffering was well worth it. 🙂

Saints, how we thank God for “your fellowship in the gospel” (Philippians 1:3-5). We are bound to thank you, whose fervent prayers encouraged us during those painful months. By God’s grace, which has borne us thus far, we will continue to endure and we cannot wait to see what the Lord will do next year! We ask for your continued prayer, for we will face even more satanic opposition in the upcoming year.

As 2011 fades into the recesses of memory, and 2012 becomes a reality, we should keep this sound doctrine in mind: Like the difficulties of this past year, the things which [will happen unto us will fall out] rather unto the furtherance of the gospel!” Lord willing, in 2012, we hope to “continue fighting the good fight of faith…” no matter what else it may cost us (1 Timothy 6:12).

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM arC MINISTRIES!

Your Spiritual Bank Account

Friday, December 30, 2011

“For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Philippians 4:16,17 KJV).

In the Dispensation of Grace, as members of the Church, the Body of Christ, God has not guaranteed us material riches. Actually, believers in Macedonia (northern Greece, perhaps Thessalonica and Berea) experienced “deep poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:1,2). Paul sometimes lacked certain material goods including food and shelter (2 Corinthians 11:27; Philippians 4:11,12). Material riches are uncertain riches” (1 Timothy 6:17). Instead, God has promised us spiritual wealth in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 8:9).

We who have trusted exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ—His blood shed for our sins, His death, His burial, and His resurrection—have eternally gained “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). As “children of God,” we are “then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16,17). Imagine that—we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ!”

In addition to those spiritual blessings we already have, we are accumulating further spiritual wealth by daily studying and believing sound (dispensational) Bible doctrine. That sound Bible doctrine is likened to “gold, silver, and precious stones”—everything else (philosophy, religious tradition, et cetera) is the worthless “wood, hay, and stubble” that should be avoided (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Furthermore, today’s Scripture speaks of “fruit abounding to our account”—our spiritual bank account. The indwelling Holy Ghost will take the aforementioned sound doctrine and empower us to invest time, money, and energy in Christian service (like assisting other Christians, as in today’s Scripture). This will yield eternal benefits—spiritual growth/maturity, salvation of others, et cetera (2 Corinthians 9:6,7).

Once we Christians leave this life, we leave behind material wealth (1 Timothy 6:7). “Godliness,” or “doctrine according to godliness” (sound Bible teaching), is all we will be taking to heaven (1 Timothy 6:3-6). This sound doctrine and spiritual wealth is everlasting, never to be lost to recession or depression. Rejoice! 🙂

A Brief Ministry

Thursday, December 29, 2011

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15,16 KJV).

In my nearly six years of ministry, one thing I have learned is not to waste time with contentious fools. We have better things to do than argue with those comfortable in ignorance (1 Corinthians 14:37,38). Saints, God has given us “the ministry of reconciliation” to proclaim to the world “the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). What a grand ministry that is, albeit brief!

The seconds of life are fleeting, beloved. Ask yourself, have you been wasting those seconds? The outward man is growing older, weaker, and closer to going home to be with the Lord. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Even the life of a centenarian is brief… a milestone most never reach.

Today’s Scripture exhorts the saint whose mind has strayed from God and whose Christian service is unacceptable. That child of God piddles about, wasting precious time that could be spent for God’s glory. How many more precious souls could be saved and edified if Christians spent less time in front of the television, and more time studying God’s Word? While there is nothing wrong with watching television, our priority is souls, both saved and lost!

As we study God’s Word, God’s way, using dispensational Bible study, understanding that God’s Word to us is Paul’s 13 epistles of Romans through Philemon, the sound doctrine contained therein will transform our lives for God’s glory. This is “walking circumspectly [cautiously].” The lost world is watching: what do they see in your life? Carelessness, or wisdom?

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without [lost, unsaved], redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). “The days are evil,” so “redeem the time:” buy back the time for God’s glory by letting His doctrine transform you for His glory. Remember, your ministry is brief, for once this life ends, your “Christian ambassadorship” here is over, and your heavenly ministry begins. Will you be ready?

No Thanks, God! #3

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 KJV).

The Lord has been extremely generous toward mankind, especially during the last 2,000 years (the Dispensation of Grace). Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God offers complete forgiveness and everlasting salvation to anyone who trusts exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour. For 2,000 years, God has offered everyone that “free gift” of salvation in Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Romans 5:15-17; Ephesians 2:8,9; et al.). Mankind was unworthy of that gift before it was offered; how much more are we undeserving now that that gift has been rejected for 20 centuries?

Today, individuals doubt the existence of a loving Creator, in spite of the Bible’s testimony that He exists. After everything that God did to commend His love toward us, sending His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us, many still wonder if God loves them. Sad! What is more disturbing is that even after they discover God’s goodness and grace, many reject Him anyway (today’s Scripture).

Once the Apostle Paul spoke to Judaean governor Felix of “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” “Felix trembled” (Acts 24:24,25). Lost Felix feared, especially that “judgment to come.” Nevertheless, Felix hardened his heart, and replied, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” “Go away, Paul; come back later!” Lost mankind is still equally arrogant.

“God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7): whether in this life, or in the next, God will exact retribution to Christ-rejecters. Imagine the horror lost people experience after physical death. Conscience of their arrival in the flames of hell, they recall their refusal of the Gospel of the Grace of God. Salvation was so simple, but now, God has retracted that offer of salvation. Now only “the judgment” remains (Hebrews 9:27). The words, “No thanks, God!,” haunting them for eternity….

Do not toss away the gift of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Accept that gift by faith and escape that wrath to come!

No Thanks, God! #2

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 KJV).

Once Adam sinned, God could have immediately annihilated the human race. All these millennia later, God is still tolerating man’s wickedness. Myriads of scoffers today shake their fists at God and curse His name, and yet the heavens are silent. Why?

Fire and brimstone do not rain down from heaven, as during Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction (Genesis 19:24,25). No flood consumes our planet, like in Noah’s day (Genesis 6:13). Today, the earth does not open and swallow the infidels, as it did Korah and his men, and God’s fire does not consume men, as it did 250 other blasphemers (Numbers 16:30-35). God does not strike unbelievers dead, as He did King Herod (Acts 12:21-23), or blind them as He did Elymas (Acts 13:9-11). Why does God not exact vengeance today as He did in time past?

Today, we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God. This dispensational change allows mankind to receive the riches of God’s “forbearance” and “longsuffering.” God is patient and is restraining Himself from pouring out His wrath so more people can be saved before His wrath is executed. “The Lord is not slack [lazy, undependable] concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:9)

Ecclesiastes 8:11 says: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” In due time, God will punish the lost world, just not today in our dispensation. Since the Lord does not immediately execute wrath, people take advantage of Him. God is extending His grace and peace to us undeserving sinners, but as today’s Scripture says, people hate God’s goodness and grace and reject it.

Do not toss away the gift of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Accept that gift by faith and escape that wrath to come!

No Thanks, God! #1

Monday, December 26, 2011

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 KJV).

As the Christmas Season wanes, unwanted gifts that cannot be refunded are being discarded. Imagine all the time, money, and energy spent purchasing those gifts for their ungrateful recipients. There is a worse tragedy! We, sinful humanity, deserve coal, the riches of God’s wrath (Romans 2:5,6,8,9); thankfully, we have been given the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). Predictably, there are unappreciative individuals who have already eagerly tossed out something worth far more than material possessions—God’s grace.

A noted outspoken atheist, who recently “met his Maker,” described prayer as “meaningless.” During his last year alive, even while cancer-stricken, he had a hardened heart toward God. As far as I know, he died without Jesus Christ. That man, like billions of others before, beheld God’s grace, and haughtily declared, “No thanks! I do not need You, God!” Today’s Scripture describes the attitude of most people: “[They] despise [hate!] the riches of [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering.” Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for them and God’s love and grace are worthless to them.

In Israel’s program under the Mosaic Law, God utterly destroyed such people. But, for nearly 2,000 years, God’s wrath has been in abeyance. Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, God is “not imputing the world’s trespasses unto it” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19). That will change…

Once our dispensation (time period) expires, during Daniel’s 70th week, the seven-year Tribulation, God will righteously judge this rebellious world in His wrath (Psalm 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; et al.). God will finally retaliate and take vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The antichrist will deceive those who received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Do not toss away the gift of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Accept that gift by faith and escape that wrath to come!

…But We Have Been Given God’s Grace

Sunday, December 25, 2011

“In whom [the Lord Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7 KJV).

In yesterday’s devotional, we learned how we, the sinful human race, are worthy of our holy Creator God’s wrath. God has created a special place, hell, for Satan and those who follow his sinful rebellion against God (Matthew 25:41). The simple truth is that, because of our sinful nature (and the resulting sinful actions), we all deserve to go to hell, and ultimately, separated from God forever in the lake of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:14,15; Revelation 21:8; et al.).

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20b). God, in His grace, dealt with our sin at Calvary’s cross, and took it out of the way. Through the finished crosswork of God incarnate, Jesus Christ, the riches of God’s grace are manifest. God left heaven’s glory to live in a human body, to “humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”(Philippians 2:5-8). Why?

  • To commend God’s love toward us (Romans 5:8).
  • To die, not simply for us, but as us (Romans 6:3-9; Colossians 2:11-15).
  • To undo the damage caused by sinful Adam (Romans 5:12-21; Colossians 1:20-21).
  • To “put away [our] sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
  • To deliver us from Satan’s policy of evil, and make us sinners saints (Colossians 1:12-14).
  • To give us everlasting life…His life (Galatians 2:20) and thus, do for us what we could not do for ourselves—accomplish our salvation from the second death (spiritual death) (Ephesians 2:1-9)!
  • To give us “peace with God” (Romans 5:1).

Today, God is not imputing the world’s sin unto it (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Everyone, regardless of religion, race, or social standing, can now receive forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ. All they have to do is place their faith in the Gospel of Grace as found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4—“that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again for our justification!”

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM arC MINISTRIES!

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study titled “Emmanuel 2.” The Bible study can be read here and watched here.