The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ #4

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV).

Saints, today’s Scripture tells us that through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary—Paul’s Gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4—we can now obtain “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Christ, we have acquired the righteous status before God that Adam had prior to mankind’s fall into sin. God has redeemed our souls from sin and hell and He has given us a new identity in Christ. But, our vile physical bodies have not yet been redeemed from sin’s curse, so we cannot see the glory of that new identity. At the rapture, we will receive glorified physical bodies, and the glory we have in Christ will be manifested (Romans 8:18-25).

Our Lord Jesus Christ “dwells in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16). Christ is so holy that light emanates from His body (remember the Mount of Transfiguration?). When the ascended Lord Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus (the future Apostle Paul), Saul was blinded for three days because of “the glory of that light” (Acts 9:1-9; Acts 22:5-11; Acts 26:12,13). This is the glory of God that dwells in us; we just cannot see it right now.

Currently, we live in these limited physical bodies that cannot reflect the glory of Christ that we have inside (in the inner man). That will change at the rapture. “As we have borne the image of the earthy [these physical bodies linked to fallen Adam], we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [the glorified bodies that will reflect Christ’s glory; Philippians 3:20,21]” (1 Corinthians 15:49ff.).

After the rapture, we will have bodies that will be just as radiant as Jesus’ body on the Mount of Transfiguration. Then, we will be glorified together with Christ (Romans 8:16,17). Glorious truth!

The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ #3

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV).

In the beginning Adam and Eve were physically naked, but they were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). Why? They had perfect fellowship with God, for God had made man “in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). Mankind reflected God’s glory, God’s holiness: man, like God, was sinless. Adam and Eve needed no clothes, for the light of God’s righteousness emanated from their bodies: God’s holiness was their covering. However, once Adam sinned, they “knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). They quickly sewed (itchy!) fig leaf aprons for clothes! They no longer bore God’s image; sin caused them to lose that glorious light covering them.

During His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus took the Apostles Peter, James, and John to a high mountain. Instantly, the Lord Jesus’ body shone brightly. “[H]is face did shine as the sun, and his raiment [clothing] was white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). His clothes were “exceeding white as snow [bleached white!]” (Mark 9:3; Luke 9:29). This is the famous “Mount of Transfiguration” account. Usually, Jesus’ physical body looked normal; but here, the glorious light (holiness) in which He dwelt in glory was briefly manifested for these three apostles. This was the light that once covered Adam and Eve before they sinned!

Look at those who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Physically, they look like everyone else. The light of the righteousness of God that Christians have inside (in the soul) is not visible today; just like Jesus Christ looked normal physically (the difference was spiritual!!). At the rapture, our resurrected (glorified) physical bodies will display the glory that now resides in us Christians. Our new bodies will shine brilliantly, reflecting the inward glory (of our Lord Jesus Christ) that we have right now (today’s Scripture). Glorious truth!

The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ #2

Monday, March 19, 2012

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, God has called us Christians by Paul’s Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) for us to obtain “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our souls have already been purchased (redeemed) from the bondage of sin through Christ’s bloodshed (Titus 2:13,14). However, we still live in these sinful physical bodies that are prone to die. At the rapture, that will change, literally!

Unlike our spiritual bodies (souls), our physical bodies have not yet been redeemed from sin. If the Lord tarries, we shall die physically, and our physical bodies will go into the ground. But, at the rapture, these physical bodies will be resurrected and redeemed: Paul wrote, “[we are] waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23; cf. Ephesians 4:30).

Although we now have “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” inside (in the inner man, the soul), these physical bodies limit us from seeing what God has really made us in Christ. So, these vile (sinful) physical bodies must one day be instantly transformed at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). Our physical bodies will be automatically changed to resemble Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrected body (Philippians 3:20,21). Wow!

We have Christ’s glorious resurrection life living in us now (Galatians 2:20), but we cannot see that glory. One day, God will give us glorified physical bodies, which, unlike these physical bodies, will be able to reflect this inward glory. The inward glory we now have will be manifested for all creation to see. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [us Christians!](Romans 8:18,19). Glorious truth!

The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ #1

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV).

We enter this world as sinners, heirs of Adam’s sin nature (Romans 5:12). As King David wrote, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Saints, we were once hell-bound sinners, marred by sin—that was our “glory” in Adam. Now that we are “in Christ,” we have obtained the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Adam was “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26,27). Originally, Adam was sinless, in complete and unbroken fellowship with His perfect Creator God. Once Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he lost that fellowship. Sin destroyed his link with His sinless Creator. Mankind had chosen the way of Satan, seeking his own glory instead of the glory of His Creator. He was now lost, God’s enemy.

Jesus Christ, humbly left heaven’s glory, to walk earth’s filthy streets and subject Himself to wicked man. Why? God the Son became a man, to undo what Adam did, and reconcile man unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18,20). He came to die for our sins, to be buried, and to be raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus’ perfect blood was shed to restore us to the perfect fellowship that Adam (mankind) once had with God!

Now that we have trusted Christ alone as our Saviour (the Gospel), we have “obtained the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (today’s Scripture): we have been “sanctified” (set apart for God’s purposes) and “saved” (from sin and hell). We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s perfect nature has been now applied to us Christians! Jesus’ blood has made atonement for our sins (Romans 5:6-11); sin no longer prevents us from fellowshipping with our Creator God. Glorious truth!

Filthy Lucre

Saturday, March 17, 2012

“The scribes… which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation” (Mark 12:38,40 KJV).

Recently, Harold Camping released an online letter of apology for (wrongly) predicting “Judgment Day” would come May 21, 2011. Thousands of dear people fell for the scam: some spent their college funds and retirement savings to finance one of religion’s most recent hoaxes. Beloved, fall not prey to those who “devour widows’ houses.”

God’s Word says, the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). The idolization of material wealth has bred thousands of wars and millions of murders. It has also contributed to the everlasting damnation of billions of souls.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus rebuked Israel’s religious leaders for “devouring [consuming] widow’s houses”… robbing even widows of everything! Religion is the world’s most prosperous business: it was true in Jesus’ day, and nothing has changed. Mankind is still naturally bent toward accumulating much material wealth. I was aghast to learn that one of my community’s churches is “devouring” nearly $700,000 annually! The local mega-church must be “raking in” millions!

Once, when I told one of our former pastors that we are not bound to tithe today, he leaned over and whispered, “Shh, do not tell that to my people. They do not give enough as it is!” How sad. The dear man must have not known that one of the qualifications of bishops (pastors) and deacons was “not greedy of filthy lucre [extorted money]” (1 Timothy 3:3,8; Titus 1:7)—or did he know (?). Someone recently informed me that a lady’s purse was stolen at her church. (I am inclined to think it was the money-hungry denomination!)

Beloved, be cautious about where your money goes, especially regarding churches and ministries. Many churches and ministries are not serving the Lord; they are hiding God’s truth from the masses. How it grieves our heart to see so many good, sincere people being taken advantage of.

A FRIENDLY REMINDER: prayerfully and carefully research a church or ministry’s doctrinal statement (beliefs) before you financially support it. Make sure you are not financing the adversary (Satan)!

I Will Hear What God the LORD Will Speak

Friday, March 16, 2012

“I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly” (Psalm 85:8 KJV).

There are many voices and sounds in our world. They all compete for audience. Obviously, we cannot listen to all of them. There are many books in our world, and they all vie for readership. Obviously, we cannot read all of them. To which voice should we hearken? Which book should we trust?

The psalmist who wrote today’s Scripture made a choice: “I will hear what God the LORD will speak.” He wanted “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4). This is the definition of inspiration (notice, “inspiration,” with “spir” meaning “air/breath”). “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16a). That means that the King James Bible does not merely contain God’s Word; it is God’s Word. Moreover, it contains His very “words” (not simply His thoughts).

In Romans 3:1,2, the Apostle Paul refers to the Bible as the “oracles of God” (“oracle” means “an authority that was spoken,” etymologically related to “orator”/speaker; cf. 2 Peter 1:21). The prophet Stephen referred to the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law as “the lively oracles” (Acts 7:38)—infallible, authoritative, living words because God spoke them.

As the future prophet Samuel said to the LORD, “Speak; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10). God wants to “speak peace unto his people, and to his saints.” Do you want to hear what He has to say to us Christians? God’s Word comes not in the form of an audible voice, but in a Book—the King James Bible (notice “scripture” in 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to something written [a book], not an audible voice). Open up that Book, begin in the book of Romans, and read what God has to say to you! Once we learn from God’s Word, “let [us] not turn again to folly” (that is, continue in God’s wisdom; return not to your previous thoughts of folly/foolishness).

Be Thou Partaker of the Afflictions of the Gospel

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8 KJV).

Has God promised us Christians a “carefree, trouble-free life,” as today’s prosperity preachers assert?

Young Timothy, pastor of the Ephesian church, has grown weary because of satanic opposition: he is fearful, for the lost world has intimidated him to the point of discouragement and/or silence (verse 7). Timothy is ashamed of God’s Word, and of imprisoned Paul. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy with today’s Scripture: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord!” “Speak up, Timothy! They need to hear God’s Word, so endure the suffering!”

Satan is against us, saints, because he is against our God. The devil wants to wear us out; he will use unbelievers—and even “Christian” brethren—to intimidate and mock us. Satan uses evil men to persecute us, so we grow “ashamed” of God’s Word, and then throw up our hands and quit! We need to be “partakers of the afflictions of the Gospel.” No greater privilege do we Christians have than suffering for the God who died for us!

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). In verse 11, Paul speaks of his “persecutions” and “afflictions,” “but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” How did God deliver him? The end of today’s Scripture tells us: “according to the power of God.” In order to endure Satan’s attacks, we rely on God’s power, not on our strength and resources (or we shall be defeated) (2 Corinthians 1:8,9).

“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation” (2 Corinthians 1:3-10; 2 Timothy 2:11-13). We have God’s sufficient grace to comfort us: “Therefore I take pleasure… in reproaches,… in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong(2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

So, be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel!

Stand in Awe of the LORD

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

“Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8 KJV).

Who stands in awe of God today? Very few. For the past 2,000 years, our world has grown very comfortable in its sins. After all, in this the Dispensation of Grace, God is not imputing the world’s trespasses unto it (2 Corinthians 5:19). God’s attitude toward the whole world today, saved and lost, is “grace and peace” (the expression with which Paul began every epistle). Alas, rather than gratefully accepting God’s grace, man has taken advantage of God’s grace.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 explains man’s overall attitude toward God in the Dispensation of Grace: “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.” Today, scoffers mock God and blaspheme His name, with no immediate judgment. They ridicule His Word and persecute His saints. Operating under the false impression they have gotten away with it, they sin even more.

Look at how harshly God dealt with rebellious people in time past (Noah’s contemporaries, Sodom and Gomorrah, et cetera). Today, God does not pour out His wrath and judgment. The day is coming however, when God’s wrath will be executed. Our world is headed for the Tribulation, “the day of the vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2; cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10).

We who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have submitted to God’s authority. We saints humbly stand in awe of God, our Creator, our Saviour, and our Head, awed by His grace, love, and mercy. We respect His power and authority. But, most of the world, lost and headed for hell, hates God.

Nevertheless, the day is speedily approaching when, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10,11). In that day, ALL will be forced to kneel in awe of the LORD!

The LORD, He is the God

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

“And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God” (1 Kings 18:39 KJV).

Is the LORD of the Bible (JEHOVAH) one of many gods, or is He the only God? Today’s Scripture and its context definitively answer this question.

King Ahab and Queen Jezebel are some of the most notorious rulers in the Bible. Reigning over Israel (the northern kingdom) from approximately 874–853 B.C., Ahab and Jezebel introduced Baal worship among God’s people Israel, angering God and misleading the Jews (Baal was a pagan god of the neighboring Canaanites) (1 Kings 16:29-33). Jezebel also killed many of the LORD’S prophets, who were speaking out against she and Ahab’s wickedness (1 Kings 18:4,13).

Ahab and God’s prophet Elijah meet, and Elijah instructs Ahab to gather Baal’s 450 prophets and the 400 grove (pagan shrine) prophets and bring them to Mount Carmel (verses 17-20).

When Israel and Baal’s prophets are assembled at Carmel, Elijah tells Israel, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (verse 21). In the succeeding verses, Elijah proposes a test to see who is God: if JEHOVAH rains down fire and consumes the animal sacrifice, He is God, but if Baal rains down fire and devours the sacrifice, then he is God (verses 23,24).

Baal’s prophets present an animal sacrifice and repeatedly call to Baal from morning to evening, but neither fire nor voice came from Baal, and the sacrifice remains untouched (verses 25-29).

Elijah then lays out an animal sacrifice, and calls on JEHOVAH: “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel… that this people may know that thou art the LORD God….” (verses 36,37). Immediately, fire rains down from heaven, consuming the wood, the water, the dust, and the burnt sacrifice. After Israel saw that, Israel knew that pagan idols were not God, and they responded with today’s Scripture, “The LORD [JEHOVAH], he is the God!”

Unknown by Face (For Now, Anyway)

Monday, March 12, 2012

“Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:21-24 KJV).

Today’s Scripture says Jewish believers in Judaea (surrounding Jerusalem) merely heard of Paul’s conversion. They had not seen him in person. Nevertheless, these saints rejoiced because Paul, the very man who once murdered God’s people, was now God’s apostle of the Gentiles! Paul wrote “they glorified God in me.”

The Church the Body of Christ spans some 2,000 years. Its members, scattered worldwide, lived during various centuries, all having never met face-to-face (I have never met most of you in person). Paul never met the Laodiceans and the Colossians (Colossians 2:1)… in this life, anyway. When the Body of Christ is complete, at the rapture, we will see—in person—our brethren, the Christians of the past 20 centuries (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Get excited!!!

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a young grace believer and college student who discovered our devotionals blog (he will be reading this too!). Yesterday, we were finally able to fellowship via telephone… spanning the 1,000-mile distance between us. We know not each other in person—we are both “unknown by face”—but we “glorified God in [each other].” We rejoiced in the Lord, how by His grace, we stood for the grace message (the Gospel of the Grace of God), the King James Bible, young earth creationism, and Pauline dispensationalism. How we were both encouraged by each other’s dedication to sound doctrine, even as our “higher education” systems consider us “outcasts.” Our fervor for upholding God’s Word rightly divided, even in the midst of persecution, encouraged him, and vice versa (1 Thessalonians 3:7,8).

Brethren, when we read or hear about other grace believers proclaiming and defending sound Bible doctrine (Gospel of Grace, King James Bible, Paul’s apostleship, et cetera), let us “glorify God in [them],” even if they are “unknown by face [for now, anyway]!”