Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, March 31, 2013

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That (2012) study can be read here or watched here.

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #2

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Jesus knew Bible prophecy had to be fulfilled: He had to suffer in accordance with the Old Testament prophets. Even when He spoke seven times from the cross, He quoted various Old Testament verses. The Old Testament prophets also gave Him comfort: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (today’s Scripture).

For instance, He remembered that Jonah’s prophecy had to be fulfilled: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). On the third day, He would live again, and be reunited with His heavenly Father!

He knew that His Father would resurrect Him. His spiritual torment and physical death were only temporarily, as David quoted Jesus 1000 B.C., “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:24-31).

Our Lord thought of reigning over that glorious kingdom that His Heavenly Father would give Him after His resurrection. As the psalmist wrote centuries before Calvary’s crosswork, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:6-8). “Begotten” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, not His nativity in Bethlehem (Acts 13:33,34).

Jesus Christ, during His torturous crucifixion, thought about and rejoiced in the promises in the Scriptures that applied to Him. Likewise, we, during difficult circumstances, can remember and joy in God’s promises to us—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

We too can share Messiah’s joy amidst grief! 🙂

 

Messiah’s Joy Amidst Calvary’s Grief #1

Friday, March 29, 2013

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).

Do you ever wonder what our Lord Jesus Christ was thinking about while He hung there on Calvary’s cross?

Psalm 22:1-21 provides us with a glimpse of Jesus’ thoughts as He endured that awful crucifixion: He is greatly tormented physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Various verses in Psalm 69 provide additional insight, especially as death begins to close in on His soul. Written about 1000 B.C., these and other “Messianic psalms” graphically describe assorted events in our Lord’s earthly life (in this case, His crucifixion)… centuries before they occurred!

What Jesus Christ thought about while suspended on Calvary’s cross was the Holy Scriptures. He had faith in the Old Testament passages that applied to Him. No matter what happened to Him, He knew it was His Father’s will, and His Father would be glorified. As He stated earlier, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup [of Thy wrath; Revelation 14:10] from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt (Mark 14:36). “…The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:29bc).

Do you realize what today’s Scripture is saying? Jesus Christ felt immense physiological and spiritual pain, but He thought about the overall view: for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (cf. Psalm 16:8-11). Yes, the Old Testament spoke of His suffering, and those Scriptures must be fulfilled, but it also testified of His glorious kingdom that would follow, and those Scriptures also were to be fulfilled in due time! “…The sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). While it did not diminish the extent of His distress and suffering, Jesus Christ kept in memory the glory His Father would give Him once He had endured the crucifixion (Philippians 2:8-11). It gave Him such joy. He felt grief unspeakable, but He also had joy unfathomable!

Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, March 28, 2013

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

An Heretick Reject

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

“But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:9-11 KJV).

Beloved, never forgot that the greatest damage ever inflicted upon the Church the Body of Christ is not perpetrated by atheists or Bible skeptics—it is by people who claim to believe the Bible, who claim to follow Jesus Christ!

I read a recent, disturbing column in a national newspaper in which a prominent evangelical leader complained that some of his fellow evangelicals had rebuked him for urging other Protestants to join him in ecumenism (that is, compromising his “Protestant” doctrines in order to be more acceptable to the Roman Catholics, thereby hoping to partner with them regarding the threats of social issues such as homosexuality, Islamism, abortion, and relativism). What is appalling is that this leader called his critics “uncharitable:” pathetically, he considered them “unloving” because they recognized and chided a Bible compromiser when they heard one!

False teaching outside the Body of Christ is bad enough, but Satan furthers his plan the most by using false teaching within local churches (Acts 20:28-31; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:1-3). All of the “Christian” “celebrities” leading our churches today are leading more people away from Jesus Christ than the strip clubs, science classrooms, pubs, casinos, and abortion clinics—all put together! “Hollywood-style” “Christianity” is just as damnable as no Bible whatsoever, if not worse because of the hypocrisy and subtlety.

Our Creator God has given every person free will. If one wants to ignore the Holy Scriptures, he or she can. However, as people who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we should (hopefully…?) want to believe and obey the King James Bible. We cannot and should not fellowship with those who reject the King James Bible; reject Paul’s apostleship; and reject Jesus Christ crucified, buried, and risen again for our justification. On these three points we must agree, or we are just as deceived as the lost people who do not even have God’s Word!

The Spirit of God and the Word of God #8

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV).

As today’s Scripture demonstrates, the Spirit of God never operates apart from the Word of God.

Acts 2:4 summarizes the Holy Spirit’s relation to God’s Word: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The Holy Spirit guided the words of God’s holy apostles and prophets. He not only selected the words they spoke (cf. Matthew 10:19,20, which describes believing Jews in the future Tribulation), but that which they wrote (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21).

Not only did the Holy Spirit speak God’s Word before it was written, He also caused it to be written (inspiration). He not only caused it to be written, but He also preserved those very words so we could read them today (preservation). Not only did He preserve them, He translated them into the world’s languages (translation). Not only did He translate them, He also gives us the ability to understand those words of God when we study them (illumination).

To the person who has not trusted Jesus Christ alone as his or her personal Saviour, the Bible is “foolishness” (1 Corinthians 2:14). If we want to understand the Holy Bible, we need its Author, the Holy Spirit, and He is present within us who have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour.

Without the Holy Spirit, we would neither have nor understand the Holy Bible. Before the written, completed Bible, the Holy Ghost worked via believers with spiritual gifts, to proclaim the Word of God. In due time, the Holy Ghost caused God’s apostles and prophets to write the 66 inspired books of the Bible, the completed revelation of God. Throughout the centuries, the Holy Spirit worked through believers to copy, collate, and translate that written Bible so we could have it today, nearly 2,000 years after its canon was completed.

Dear reader, for this cause, may you never take your King James Bible for granted again! 🙂

*These previous eight devotionals are adapted from two large Bible studies, The Pneuma Hagion, and The Holy Spirit – Person or Force? You are encouraged to read them.

The Spirit of God and the Word of God #7

Monday, March 25, 2013

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV).

As today’s Scripture demonstrates, the Spirit of God never operates apart from the Word of God.

Without the Holy Spirit, we would not understand the completed Holy Bible.

The doctrine of Bible preservation is best described by Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (cf. Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). God the Holy Spirit not only wrote God’s words, He also preserved them so we could have them today, and He illuminates our minds so we can understand them today.

According to today’s Scripture and its context, the Holy Spirit uses the Holy Bible’s words to teach us, “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (verse 12). Everything that God wants us to know, He tells us in the Holy Bible, that we may be “throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17). The Holy Spirit takes those Bible verses we read and believe, and works in our souls to bring into our lives the reality of those doctrines. He takes the sound Bible doctrine He has inspired and preserved, the doctrine we read and believe, and He makes our lives the very life of Jesus Christ, the life the Bible describes!

This “filling with the Spirit” in Israel’s program empowered her regarding God’s will for her in her program (Acts 2:4; Acts 7:55). Likewise, God the Holy Spirit teaches us His will for us the Church the Body of Christ in our program. He enables us to do His will when we read and believe sound Pauline Bible doctrine (see Ephesians 5:18–6:9)—not to be confused with emotional highs, incontinence, gibberish, nonsense, or the other errors of denominationalism. When we prevent the indwelling Holy Spirit from using sound Bible doctrine to transform our inner man, we “quench [hinder] the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

In both Israel’s prophetic program and our mystery program, the Holy Spirit works using His Word, to publish His Word….