The LORD is On My Side #1

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5,6 KJV).

Although today’s Scripture is God’s Word to the nation Israel, we appreciate this doctrine and take comfort in it as its writer urged Israel to do.

Our human bodies are limited and frail; Satan’s evil world system is mighty. For centuries wicked men have imprisoned and killed Christians! As one would squeeze fruit to produce juice, so the daily struggles of life in this evil world continually batter us Christians, seemingly squeezing us until our strength is diminished and we are vanquished.

While Satan’s evil world system prevails today, it will manifest itself more fully once our Dispensation of Grace closes. It will become increasingly difficult for the nation Israel to exist once we (the Church the Body of Christ) are raptured from this earth. This horrible period following the rapture, the seven-year Tribulation, is the context of today’s Scripture.

Especially during the latter half of the Tribulation, God’s people (Israel’s believing remnant) will endure great oppression. The antichrist will persecute Israel (Matthew 10:16-33; cf. Revelation 13:10-17), even killing the Jews who disobey him by following Jesus Christ (Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 13:4-15).

In that time, the worst period of human history, God will comfort His people, Israel, using today’s Scripture: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” This is actually quoting Deuteronomy 31:6-8, when Moses encouraged Israel not to fear her enemies as they prepared to enter Canaan under Joshua’s leadership (cf. Joshua 1:5). Psalm 118:6 is also quoted: The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”

Brethren, despite our persecution in this life, Israel’s faithful God is our faithful God and He will never leave us either (Romans 8:31-39)!

The Experts (or Not!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:1-3 KJV).

The scribes and Pharisees were highly educated religious leaders in Israel. These “lawyers” and “doctors [of theology]” were Mosaic Law experts, and they demanded everyone obey it. However, in today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed these “experts” as hypocrites. Despite their godly outward appearance, they were not God’s servants. In fact, they persecuted and killed God’s servants, under the cloak of religion too (Luke 11:45-52).

Archeologists report that a stone seat is found in front of every synagogue: this is “Moses’ seat,” where the authoritative scribes would sit and teach the Law to the people (today’s Scripture). These scribes felt they were successors of Moses (a man of faith). They held a place of authority, but they were “blind guides” because they lacked godly wisdom (Matthew 23:16,24). Unlike Moses, these religious leaders were not experts when it came to faith in God’s Word. The Bible even tells us they manifested their unbelief by refusing John’s water baptism (Luke 7:29,30).

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were guilty of faithless religious activity. It appeared good, but it was spiritually wicked because it was hypocritical. But, behold the hypocritical “blind guides” of our day! Theologians and seminarians, “experts” in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin, are destitute of expertise in faith (believing what God said). They all claim to be Bible “scholars” (ha!), yet how many really believe what God’s Word says? FEW! They seek your proficiency in the “‘original’ Greek and Hebrew,” but they have no real interest in teaching you to believe God’s Word in English. Furthermore, they encourage you to join them as they faithlessly mimic Israel’s rites, rituals, and ceremonies (formalism).

Remember, according to Jesus Christ, despite an educated person’s charisma and eloquence, he or she is not necessary an expert when it comes to faith in God’s Word. Furthermore, just because it looks nice, does not necessarily mean God approves it.

Hast Thou Life, or Not?

Monday, February 27, 2012

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12 KJV).

Look at today’s Scripture, and notice its simplicity. If you have God’s Son Jesus Christ, you have life. If you do not have God’s Son, you do not have life. The Bible could not be more straightforward!

While every breathing human being has physical life, how many have spiritual life? “Few.” The Lord Jesus explained: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait [small] is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13,14). According to the Lord Himself, many people will go to hell and few will go to heaven. Why?

Many people have gone (and will go) to hell because they have chosen to remain dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a)—the rewards of sin is physical death and spiritual death (hellfire). But, we can be saved from our sins and hell by trusting Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour. Jesus Christ paid our sin debt by dying for us and as us, and He was raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). By faith, we accept His resurrection life, eternal life.

Whether in Israel’s program, or our Dispensation of Grace, salvation is only found in Jesus Christ. The Apostle John wrote to Israel: “he that hath the Son hath life (today’s Scripture; cf. John 3:36). Our Apostle Paul wrote in our dispensation: “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b).

Hast thou life, or not? Salvation is not a “hope so.” You have either trusted in Christ Jesus alone (and you are going to heaven), or you have rejected Christ and have chosen to remain dead in your sins (and you are going to hell!). You can have eternal life through Jesus Christ if you trust in Him alone!

Shhhh, Grace Believers!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

“Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth” (Acts 19:26,27 KJV).

God’s Word has always been unpopular with sinful mankind, but this is especially true of the Gospel of the Grace of God. In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul is preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven, angering the pagan idol makers. “Paul, quiet down, you are a threat to our ‘business’ (religion)!” Not surprisingly, we grace believers are told the same thing!

My local grace church has a television ministry. Once, viewers had great difficulty hearing the program. They would increase the volume of their televisions, but our pastor’s preaching was barely audible. When church members visited the office of the cable television provider which broadcasts the show, they learned that a technician was lowering the master transmit volume when our program would air. (The grace message was too offensive to either his religion or his sinfulness, so he was turning down the volume for all viewers!)

The Bible speaks of people who know the truth of God, but “who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:19,20)—they suppress God’s Word so that Satan’s error can flourish! In today’s Scripture, these pagans wanted to turn the crowds against the Apostle Paul. Paul would not be quiet regarding the message of God’s grace, so they were determined to kill him in a mob (see Acts 19:28–20:1)!

God’s grace, the message of Calvary’s cross, is offensive to people preoccupied with works-religion, for Calvary charges works-religion (man’s performance) as insufficient for heaven (see Galatians 5:11). Let us continue boldly sharing the Gospel of the Grace of God, and the rightly divided King James Bible, especially when they cry, “Shhhh, grace believers!” 🙂

Go into Your Land, Israel

Saturday, February 25, 2012

“And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:5 KJV).

In 1948 Israel became a nation in modern times. Was that the “budding of the fig tree” of Matthew 24:32-34 and Luke 21:29-32? Is God supernaturally guiding dispersed Jews back to the land of Palestine today? Many people answer both questions in the affirmative, but according to the Bible, this is simply denominational hype and tripe. The above passages refer to Israel’s program, not events in our Dispensation of Grace.

Today, in the Dispensation of Grace, God says that Israel’s prophetic program is suspended and Israel is blinded nationally (Romans 11:11,12,15,25)—Israel is “Loammi,” or “not [God’s] people” (Hosea 1:9; cf. Romans 10:1-3). But, Israel’s blindness is only temporary. Once our program is terminated (at the rapture), Israel’s program will resume. Only then will Israel inherit her land. If prophecy were being fulfilled today, we are forced to conclude that the rapture already took place, and that would mean we Christians are living in the seven-year Tribulation, which is impossible. Thus, no Bible prophecy is being fulfilled today.

At Christ’s Second Coming, He will establish His earthly kingdom. Israel will be restored to God and she will inherit the Promised Land (Acts 3:19-26; Romans 11:26-29; Hebrews 8:8-13). In that day, the LORD will say to Israel (Isaiah 62:4): “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzi-bah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

“Hephzi-bah” means “My delight is in her;” “Beulah” means “married man; husband.” Israel’s land will no longer be “Desolate” and she will no longer be “Forsaken.” Restored Israel will inherit her land one day, without our help, our funding, and our prayer, because God Himself will accomplish it (Deuteronomy 30:1-5 [today’s Scripture]; Jeremiah 23:1-6; Jeremiah 30:3; Ezekiel 34:11-16; Ezekiel 36:24-38; Ezekiel 37:21-23).

After our dispensation concludes, then God will declare, “Go into your land, Israel!”

The Jews, the Greeks, and Paul’s Gospel

Friday, February 24, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24 KJV).

Jews were fixated on “signs,” miraculous demonstrations that God had long used to teach them and their forefathers, whereas Greeks were obsessed with “wisdom” (philosophy, human viewpoint). These distracted them from focusing on what really mattered—salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • JEWS AND SIGNS: After Jesus performed miracles before Israel the Bible says “many believed in his name,… but Jesus did not commit himself unto them…” (John 2:23-25). Jesus understood they were just awed by the miracles; they overlooked the doctrine He was teaching through the miracles!! When Paul preached the Gospel of Grace to Jews, they too just wanted miracles, not the salvation that the miracles represented. Also, to Jews, “Christ crucified” was a “stumblingblock,” something offensive, for did they not crucify Christ (today’s Scripture; cf. Isaiah 8:13,14; Romans 9:32,33; 1 Peter 2:6-8)?
  • GREEKS AND WISDOM: In Acts chapter 17, when Paul encountered the Athenian philosophers near Mars’ Hill, they wanted to learn from him “new doctrine… for all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (verses 19-21). Notice again how these Greeks focused on learning/philosophy. Yet, once they learned God’s wisdom, Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, they considered that “foolishness” (today’s Scripture; cf. Acts 17:18,32; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Thankfully, today’s Scripture teaches that for Jews who were “called” (members of the Church the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE POWER, “the power of God”—for God demonstrated His miraculous power by raising Christ from the dead (cf. Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4). For Greeks who were “called” (also members of the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE WISDOM, “the wisdom of God”—for God demonstrated His unrivaled wisdom in saving us using “the foolishness of preaching” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21, 25-30; Colossians 2:2,3).

The Greeks Seek After Wisdom

Thursday, February 23, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:” (1 Corinthians 1:22 KJV).

Having been in college for nearly six years now, I have learned firsthand that most educated people avoid God’s Word. The Bible, say they, is not a credible source because it cannot be proven using the “scientific method” (that is, tested in a lab). Because the Bible is not the “wisdom of this world,” these individuals have little to no respect for it. After all, “the Greeks seek after wisdom” (today’s Scripture).

In the ancient world, Athens was an intellectual hub. So, when the Apostle Paul visited it in Acts 17:15-34, who do you suppose he met? “Certain philosophers, of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection” (verse 18). To these pagan philosophers, Paul was a “babbler,” someone who preached hearsay (unreliable rumors).

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them” (verses 32,33). What did some of these philosophers do upon hearing God’s Word? Mock it! Paul preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God was nonsense to them. (Do we not get the same response today?)

Today’s Scripture is an excerpt from Paul’s first epistle to Corinth, which, unfortunately for the Corinthian believers, was only about 45 miles (72 km) due west of Athens. The pagans in Athens obviously worshiped philosophy and science, and this idolatry trickled into nearby Corinth. Not surprisingly, one of the 10 major problems in Corinth was believers were rejecting God’s wisdom and embracing human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17-31, 2:5, 3:18,19)!

The Greek philosophy spoken of in the above verses is still with us in the sciences, the arts, and politics. Like the aforesaid philosophers, many educated people today are still “too intelligent” to be bothered with learning true wisdom, God’s Word, so they mock and reject it.

The Jews Require a Sign

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:” (1 Corinthians 1:22 KJV).

Today there is much discussion in Christendom about signs, miracles, and wonders. Charismatic preachers filled with the supposed “Holy Ghost” claim they cast out devils, handle snakes, speak in tongues, heal the sick, and, yes, allegedly raise the dead! The Bible does teach these practices, but are they really doing God’s work, or merely “wresting” God’s Word to make it say something God never said?

Unquestionably, the Lord Jesus Christ told His apostles to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:8). He instructed them to “cast out devils,” “speak with new tongues,” “take up serpents,” drink poison, and “lay hands on the sick [so] they shall recover” (Mark 16:17,18). But, notice the context—Jesus is sending His apostles with “signs” to lost Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Mark 16:17,20). Jews will only believe if they first witness God’s miracles.

Signs, miracles, and wonders were significant in Israel’s program. Jews always “required signs” (today’s Scripture). The Lord Jesus said (John 4:48): “Except ye [Israel] see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” Miracles in Israel first appear in Exodus 4:1-9, when God gave Moses the ability to heal sickness and handle snakes (to teach Israel that he was God’s servant to deliver them from Egypt). Verses 30 and 31 explain that once Israel saw these signs, “the people believed” (cf. John 4:48).

Jesus performed many miracles during His earthly ministry to prove to Israel that He was God’s servant, their Messiah-King, the God whom their fathers worshipped. Sadly, sinful Israel crucified Him in unbelief.

When God began turning to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul, these miracles transferred to the Gentiles, teaching Israel that God was now working amongst the Gentiles (Romans 11:11,12; 1 Corinthians 14:21,22). Eventually, when Israel’s program ceased, these miracles faded, and at the close of Paul’s ministry, he could no longer heal (1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:20).

So, it begs the question, today’s charismatic preachers are using whose power to perform their “signs, miracles, and wonders?” Not the God of the Bible!

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

Manuscript Copies

Monday, February 20, 2012

“The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13 KJV).

A widespread theological position is, “God’s inspired Word is only found in the autographs/original manuscripts.” But, this is silly because the autographs do not exist anymore. The Bible itself declares that manuscript copies (apographs) are equal to the original manuscripts.

Our Apostle Paul, imprisoned in Rome and living out his final days, urges Timothy to visit him soon. In today’s Scripture, Paul tells Timothy, “Bring the books, but especially the parchments.” What were these “parchments?” We believe them to be copies of Bible manuscripts!

God preserves His words through a multiplicity of manuscript copies, not in the original manuscripts alone (which no longer exist). Note:

  • Paul desired the Thessalonians to read that epistle to all the holy brethren (1 Thessalonians 5:27).
  • James 1:1 says it is written to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad,” implying a large audience occupying foreign lands (dispersed Jews).
  • The Apostle Peter wrote to Jews scattered in present-day Turkey, another vast geographical area (1 Peter 1:1).
  • Revelation 1:11 says that seven churches are to receive “a book” of letters from the Apostle John.
  • Galatians was a circular letter, to many “churches,” for Galatia was a region, not a city (1:2).
  • Colossians 4:16 says Laodicea was to read Paul’s epistle to Colosse.

Surely, it would be foolish to circulate the one original manuscript of each of the above Bible books (if so, the original would have disintegrated through continued usage, and God’s Word would have been lost!). Did God expect all these individuals living in various areas to share one Bible (book) containing the original manuscripts? Of course not. They shared manuscript copies, copies of the originals.

There were (and are) reliable manuscript copies. Jesus and the Ethiopian eunuch did not share the same Isaiah scroll—these too were copies (Luke 4:16-21 cf. Acts 8:28-33). Israel’s king was to study manuscript copies, not the original Bible manuscripts (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

According to God’s Word, a manuscript copy of an original Bible manuscript shares its authority.