Enjoy a Grace Bible Conference!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2 KJV).

Having just returned from a grace Bible conference, let me summarize what occurred there.

Fellowshipping with like-minded believers in Jesus Christ was very enjoyable. Of course, “time just seemed to fly by.” How we wished to stay a few more minutes (or, a few more hours!) and further read and discuss the Scriptures with each other.

For some of us, the doctrine was “advanced;” for others, it was “review.” Although we may not understand everything that was taught, it still helped to familiarize ourselves with the Bible’s terminology and the Bible’s definitions of words. Although we do not understand every single verse in the Bible, at least we learned where each verse fits on the Bible timeline. Thus, we do not have to get bogged down trying to understand every last passage and verse that God gave Israel (verses He did not give to us anyway).

We learned how God has laid out His Word, and how He has a very clear method of how to study and understand it (“time past,” “but now,” and “the ages to come;” Ephesians 2:7,11-13). Learning that Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s Word to us, surely provided a clearer resolution for our spiritual eyes that have been dim for ever so long, and it relieved us of the weights of religious tradition that amassed on our spiritual backs for ever so long.

In short, we simply enjoyed our lives in Jesus Christ, the grace life described in Paul’s epistles, and encouraged each other to do the same (today’s Scripture). According to 2 Timothy 3:16,17, God has stored profit in His written Word. As “workmen,” we studied that Book “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15) in order to extract that profit, to the intent that God the Holy Spirit will work in and through us that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13), to the intent we may grow spiritually and be able to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12).

We look forward to seeing each other again… Either there or “in the air!” 🙂

Attend a Grace Bible Conference!

Friday, November 29, 2013

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13 KJV).

Before attending a grace Bible conference today, I will briefly discuss what such gatherings are all about.

The Apostle Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus (modern-day western Turkey). According to chapter 1 (verses 3-11), he charged Timothy to address a major doctrinal issue—legalism. Today’s Scripture communicates some of Paul’s instructions to Timothy until he could come and personally assist Timothy in Ephesus.

Timothy was to pay attention to three specific areas of ministry, and today’s Scripture lists them: “reading,” “exhortation,” and “doctrine.” When we Pauline dispensationalists (or “grace believers”) assemble, we do so to read and study God’s Word God’s way, to encourage one another to study and believe God’s Word God’s way, and to uphold and proclaim the doctrine that we learn when we study God’s Word God’s way.

Stated another way, we fellowship around three basic ideas that guard us against the errors in Ephesus (the same threats to our Christian lives today):

  1. FINAL AUTHORITY: We believe in the inerrancy and authority of the King James Bible—God’s preserved Word for us as English-speaking people.
  2. SOUL SALVATION: We believe in the sufficiency of the Gospel of the Grace of God—that Jesus Christ died and shed His sinless blood to pay for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).
  3. DAILY LIVING: We believe in the validity of the grace life—the doctrines of grace and their resultant manner of living that the ascended and glorified Jesus Christ first committed to the Apostle Paul (found in his epistles, Romans through Philemon).

We do not rely on the modern English “bible” versions for reading. We do not trust in works-religion for soul salvation from sins and hell. We do not believe in legalism (Mosaic law-keeping) as the operating system for the Christian life.

In short, we seek God’s approval, not a denomination’s approval.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 KJB

NOTE: I plan on video-recording the aforementioned grace Bible conference and uploading the footage to our YouTube channel. Updates will follow in the coming weeks.

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

The “Our Father” Prayer in HD #10

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8 KJV).

Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….

Believing Israel, surrounded by the pagan Romans, could have easily fallen into the trap of praying like those heathen, mindlessly repeating words to gain attention from any deity that would capitulate to their petitions. In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ was very careful in warning Israel not to err in that regard.

JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was a God of great love and faithfulness. He knew the needs of His people, and never would He fail them. They simply needed to study and meditate on His Word to them, and that would be the type of prayer that He would answer. The “Our Father” Prayer mentions three main needs of Israel: material blessings (particularly food), forgiveness, and deliverance from Satan’s world system into Christ’s kingdom. Jesus so clearly declared, “For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (today’s Scripture). The “Our Father” Prayer is Israel’s way of asking JEHOVAH for things He already said He would give them anyway! (Thus, it is senseless for us Gentiles to pray it in the Dispensation of Grace.)

At this point, one may ask, “If God already knew Israel’s needs, why did Israel have to ask Him for them?” The “Our Father” Prayer is how Israel communes with (fellowships with) her God at a very intimate level. She is memorizing God’s Word to her, speaking it back to Him, and her exaltation of His Word is what honors Him. May we learn God’s Word to us (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon), and may we continually dwell on those precious grace truths, thereby honoring Jesus Christ just as much as the “Our Father” Prayer praises Him in Israel’s program.

Dear saints, this concludes our devotionals arc, “The ‘Our Father’ Prayer in HD.” (Please do not return to low-definition.) 🙂

*NOTE: Please see our (2011) Bible study, “Praying with Paul,” for more information about prayer in the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

The “Our Father” Prayer in HD #9

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8 KJV).

Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….

The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” actually the “‘Our Father’ Prayer,” is one of Christendom’s favorite prayers. Unfortunately, however, none (!) of the millions who pray it daily understand its contents. Recall what the Apostle Paul wrote, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). In Paul’s mind, prayer was an intelligent response to God’s Word to him; it was not mindless repetition of religious rhetoric that he memorized or read from a page.

Before Jesus Christ gave the “Our Father” Prayer to believing Israel, He established two rules. Firstly, He instructed them not to pray like the hypocrites: they were to pray privately instead of publicly to be seen of people (Matthew 6:5,6). Secondly, He told them not to pray like the heathen: they were to pray intelligently rather than mindlessly utter empty, repetitious prayers (today’s Scripture).

The reader is thus greatly cautioned, for Christendom not only misunderstands the “Our Father” Prayer, but it also misuses it. Again, before Jesus even gave Israel this model prayer, He instructed them in today’s Scripture, “use not vain repetitions” because that was the manner of pagans (lost people, those going to hell). Yet, millions in Christendom today utter the “Our Father” Prayer over and over and over and over and over, completely disregarding its context and breaking the two rules Jesus attached to it. The “Our Father” Prayer is mindlessly repeated in public in circumstances that really have nothing to do with its contents. (Interestingly, the New American [Catholic] Bible says, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans,….” This dishonest wording conceals Jesus’s explicit forbiddance of “repetitious” prayer, which Christendom prefers instead of God’s will anyway.)

Let us dedicate one last study to the purpose of the “Our Father” Prayer….

The “Our Father” Prayer in HD #8

Monday, November 25, 2013

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8 KJV).

Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….

The immediate context of today’s Scripture is Jesus Christ instructing His believing remnant in Israel how to pray (the “Our Father” Prayer immediately follows today’s Scripture). The broader context is His famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5-7), a summary of God’s earthly kingdom program for Israel. While often ignored, today’s Scripture is necessary to appreciate the overall purpose of the “Our Father” Prayer.

Throughout the Bible, prayer is simply a saint (believer) speaking to God in light of God’s Word to him or her. Jesus Christ knew His disciples needed a model prayer, a way to remind themselves of that kingdom doctrine He was teaching them within the wider context. Before Jesus gave them that model prayer, He gave two rules.

Firstly, Jesus said they were not to pray like the hypocrites (such as the Pharisees), who prayed publicly merely to be seen of others: believing Israel was to pray privately in prayer closets (Matthew 6:5,6).

Secondly, Jesus told them not to pray like the heathen: “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (today’s Scripture). These Gentiles, Jesus said, talked much in prayer because they were trying to get their god’s attention. The pagans mindlessly repeated the same empty words, hoping “their much speaking” in prayer would result in a “divine” response (remember, they were certainly not praying to Israel’s God, the God of Scripture).

Today’s Scripture was Jesus Christ’s way of comforting believing Israel. He explained to them that they did not have to waste their time in mindless, repetitious prayer to get JEHOVAH’S attention. JEHOVAH was fully aware of their needs, so “vain repetitions” were unnecessary. They simply needed to remember His Word to them….

The “Our Father” Prayer in HD #7

Sunday, November 24, 2013

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8 KJV).

Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” with unparalleled clarity….

Read the entire “Our Father” Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

By studying the contents of this prayer, we saw that it neither applies to us nor describes what God is doing today in this, the Dispensation of His Grace. This prayer is a summary of Israel’s prophetic program—it opens and closes with a doxology (Israel’s praise of God), and its five petitions involve God’s Word to Israel. We can and do study this prayer and we can and do rejoice in its doctrine. However, we acknowledge that it is God’s Word to Israel in her kingdom program, and we should not steal it and force it into our program.

The Lord Jesus Christ provided four large model prayers in Paul’s epistles that involve and describe what God is doing today (Ephesians 1:15-23; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-13). May we study these prayers and understood their contents, so we can enjoy our fellowship with God and talk to Him in light of His Word to us, just as believing Israel delighted in His Word to them and they spoke to Him about it.

Before we conclude this devotionals arc on the “Our Father” Prayer, we will briefly examine the two verses of today’s Scripture (those which preceded the “Our Father” Prayer). These two verses will further summarize the “Our Father” Prayer for us and clarify it for us even more….