Heart Service #6

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

When he wrote Romans (circa Acts chapter 20), Paul had never visited the saints in Rome (he was imprisoned there years later in Acts chapter 28). One or more of his ministry coworkers, perhaps Aquila and his wife Priscilla (Acts 18:2; cf. Romans 16:3-5), had shared the Gospel of the Grace of God with these pagan Romans.

Paul rejoiced when he heard about the Romans’ salvation, their trusting in the finished crosswork of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for their sins, their forsaking of worthless idols and vain religion. He yearned to visit them but was hindered; he was forced to write this epistle to them instead (Romans 1:8-15). Thank God He had Paul write to the Romans instead, or we would not have this wonderful, simple book of grace doctrine to study today!

After discussing our new identity in Christ (Romans chapters 1-5), Paul proceeded to ask in Romans 6:1,2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Our position in Christ has permanently made us dead to sin, that nature we inherited from Adam. Saints, sin is not who we are anymore. “Likewise reckon [conclude] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (verse 11).

In today’s Scripture, Paul reminded the Romans how they were saved unto eternal life, received forgiveness of sins, had a home reserved in heaven. They heard some sound Bible doctrine—the Gospel of God’s Grace, everything that God did for them in Christ at Calvary’s cross—and they believed it in their hearts. The Apostle made it clear that their salvation from daily sins (the context of Romans chapters 6-8) would operate in the same manner. It would be Jesus Christ’s resurrection life, His power, His righteousness, His strength, His faith, His work. Him, Him, Him, not them, them, them!

NOTE: We will briefly suspend this devotionals arc. Stay turned!

Heart Service #5

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

How should we deal with daily sins as Christians? Religion says, “Confess your sins (either to a priest or directly to God), and then follow our church’s/denomination’s ‘code of conduct’ to do better next time.” They even direct us to obey Bible verses such as the Ten Commandments and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. While these religious people are often well-meaning, they overlook a simple fact: It was our performance that got us into those sins in the first place, so we must look beyond ourselves, beyond our capacity, to have victory over daily sins. We must go back to the basics of the book of Romans, its first five chapters, and re-learn the simplest doctrines of grace.

Delineated so clearly in Romans chapters 1-5, the Gospel of the Grace of God—“Christ died for our sins(1 Corinthians 15:3)—plainly declares that we sinners do not and cannot please the God of the Bible. As sons and daughters of Adam, we have no natural, internal capacity to do the works that He wants done. Moreover, we naturally do not have the attitude and motives that He accepts when those good works are accomplished. Despite all our “piety” (“goody-goodiness”), God’s righteous verdict concerning mankind, us, is “Guilty!” (Romans 3:19).

In the context of today’s Scripture, our Apostle Paul already discussed salvation from sins unto eternal life (Romans chapters 1-5). Today’s Scripture is a highlight of the second section of Romans, chapters 6-8, which focuses on daily Christian living. The serious Bible student would never conclude that Romans chapters 6-8 teach that we must follow rules and regulations to make ourselves accepted of God, to have victorious Christian lives, for it would go contrary to what the previous five chapters taught. If we are to have victory over daily sins, we look not to our religious performance, but we recall how God worked to save us unto eternal life (today’s Scripture)….

Heart Service #4

Monday, April 28, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

Romans chapters 6-8 are three basic, but highly important, Pauline passages about Christian practical sanctification (that is, daily, holy living). Yet, before our Apostle Paul discussed Christian living in these verses, he had already taught how to become a Christian in chapters 1-5. This textual arrangement is indicative of one simple fact: Christian living is of no value if the person is not truly a Christian! To wit, Romans chapters 6-8 will only be effectual in the lives of people who already understand and believe Romans chapters 1-5.

Religious tradition has caused overwhelming confusion as to who is and who is not a Christian. Living separate from the world’s practices and customs does not make one a Christian. Participating in sundry religious activities does not make one a Christian either—this includes church programs, pilgrimages, water baptism, giving, church membership, prayers, communion (Lord’s Supper), seminary or Bible-college training, and emotional experiences.

A person, after becoming a Christian—that is, after realizing he or she cannot save himself or herself and after trusting with the heart (today’s Scripture) Jesus Christ’s righteousness demonstrated at Calvary as the fully satisfying payment for his or her sins (Romans chapters 1-5)—should then have a Christian life (Romans chapters 6-8). Unfortunately, many churches teach lost people time and time again to live like Christians, when they are not Christians to begin with!

Furthermore, Christianity is not we making ourselves holy; Christianity is we walking in the identity that God gave us in Christ. It is not, as religion teaches, we living a life like Jesus’. True Biblical Christianity is we studying and believing sound Bible doctrine (rightly divided Scriptures), so the indwelling Holy Spirit can then take that doctrine and cause our behavior to match the doctrine. Christianity is Christ’s life in us Christians! Religion makes the Christian life very complicated, but this, dear readers, is the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3)….

Heart Service #3

Sunday, April 27, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

Dearly beloved, we avoid today’s apostate Christendom by hearkening unto today’s Scripture, a verse that, had Christendom followed, could have prevented them from winding up in the mess in which they are today! They rejected “that form of doctrine which was delivered [them]” through the Apostle Paul. Like Israel in Jesus’ day, Christendom still prefers to follow the traditions of men (Mark 7:1-13). Sinful man never improves anything God does; he only spoils it.

The Romans were pagan Gentiles, lost and going to hell. The, they heard Paul’s Gospel of Grace—Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)—and they believed it with their heart (today’s Scripture; Romans 10:10). They were no longer slaves to sin and Satan, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:11)! It was not their efforts, their struggles, that saved them from their sins, so it would never be their performance, their struggles, that caused their Christian lives to operate. Religious rites, rituals, ceremonies, program-building, organization-forming, denomination-starting, that was not the Christian life, the grace life, the life of Christ living in and through those who believed His grace doctrines revealed in and through Paul. Nay, those were counterfeit good works.

“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). Just as we were saved unto eternal life by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork at sufficient payment for our sins (today’s Scripture), so we trust Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork (His resurrection life) as our means for victory over daily sins. Only God Almighty can see into our hearts (2 Chronicles 6:30; Psalm 26:2; Romans 8:27; Hebrews 4:12; et al.)—He is most certainly capable of seeing who has faith in His Word to them, and who is merely religious (fleshly, living in their own strength). He can see if it is truly “Christ liveth in us” (Galatians 2:20), or just vain religious tradition….

Heart Service #2

Saturday, April 26, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

Religious people appear and sound very godly. However, dear friends, even Satan himself talks about Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3,4). Remember, “Everyone who sings about heaven ain’t going there!” We can sing every hymn in the songbook, give 100 percent of our income to a ministry, attend every prayer meeting, help the poor and homeless, and even join every local church of every denomination. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ sees beyond all that. The famous Scripture, 1 Samuel 16:7, synopsizes: “The LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

One can perform many rites, rituals, and ceremonies, and can fool everyone into thinking he or she is God’s child. The individual looks so pious he or she has to be going to heaven, right? WRONG! Study Matthew 7:21-23, where some people stand before Jesus Christ and brag about how they preached in His name, how they cast out devils in His name, and how they did “many wondrous works” in His name. Jesus replies, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity!” If it is not Jesus Christ doing the good works in and through a person, the Bible says it is iniquity, wickedness, no matter how good the work appears! God is not looking for good works per se; God wants Christians who let Him do good works in and through them!

Again, Christian service is an issue of faith in God’s Word rightly divided, not blind religious activity. We obey God’s Word to us through Paul by trusting with our heart the pattern of doctrine, his epistles, Romans through Philemon (today’s Scripture). Being well versed in Paul’s epistles protects us from Satan’s deception (the devil wants us to follow Israel’s program, that which is Scripture but outside of God’s will for today). This is the key to serving the God of the Bible….

Heart Service #1

Friday, April 25, 2014

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to being delivered from and guarded against today’s apostate Christendom.

Many have noted that the Christians of the first century A.D. were much better off than we are today. How so? They did not have 38,000 denominations all claiming to be “Christianity,” all teaching different doctrines, all using extra-biblical literature, all perplexing them! Today, the professing Body of Christ is so far removed from the truth once committed to us through the Apostle Paul, no wonder there is widespread confusion even about something as basic as the Gospel that saves us today. No wonder precious few Christians have a firm grasp of the Bible, an understanding of how their Christian life has been designed to function, what they are to believe, and what they are to do (how to pray, how to give, how to love, and so on).

Jesus Christ reprimanded the religious leaders of His day who had mostly discarded God’s Word—the Old Testament Scriptures—and used a book of Jewish religious tradition—the “Talmud”—as their final authority: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9). Christ was quoting the Prophet Isaiah who wrote, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (29:13).

It is one thing to say, “I love Jesus” or “I am a Christian,” but it is quite another to know Jesus Christ, to trust Him alone as Saviour. Let us be sure that we are not merely Christians “in name only,” but that we are Christians in the heart, that we are not merely professing Christians, but possessing Christians….

Ear Service

Thursday, April 24, 2014

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4 KJV).

Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.

Today’s Scripture is particularly important at such a late date in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. These verses are not only true today, but they have been true ever since this dispensation began with the Apostle Paul nearly 2,000 years ago. Beloved, what a sad commentary. The professing Body of Christ had already abandoned the grace doctrines committed to them through Paul—while the Apostle was still living (1 Corinthians 3:16-20; Galatians 1:6-11; 1 Timothy 1:3-11,18-20; 2 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:14-18; et al.)!! How much more today?!

The Holy Bible is a very offensive book. Written to us sinners about us sinners to point us sinners to the Saviour of sinners (Jesus Christ), it is thus hated, rejected, avoided, and ridiculed. Thus, the professing church has largely fallen into the trap of making the Bible, especially the Gospel of the Grace of God, palatable, more “acceptable.”

Consider today’s “social gospel,” “health and wealth gospel,” and “lordship gospel.” For example, “Make Jesus the Lord of your life, and He will bless with you material riches and remove all your sicknesses and problems.” Or, “Jesus came to help you to get to heaven, so you just give your heart to Him, follow Him as best as you can, and He will welcome you into His heaven.” Dear readers, these adages are pleasing to the ear, but they have no saving power whatsoever!!

The “preaching of the cross is “the power of God” to us who believe and are saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). Jesus Christ’s crosswork to fully pay for our sins—His death to put away our sins, and His literal, physical resurrection to give us sinners new life—is offensive to humanists and macabre to liberals, but what wonderful news to us Christians, whose sin debt is paid in full, whose ears are tuned to God’s truth, and whose hearts believe it!

Eye Service

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Matthew 23:5-7 KJV).

Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.

Religion (Christendom) teems with people performing ceremonies, rites, and rituals to gain God’s attention and acceptance. However, Christianity focuses not on what we do for Jesus Christ, but what Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary, and what He will do in and through us if we, by faith, allow Him.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus condemned the religion of His day. Judaism was once the pure religion that JEHOVAH gave to Israel through Moses. In the 1,500 years since Moses, Israel’s religious leaders had polluted that God-given religion. Israel’s clergy were generally divided between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, although the Pharisees dominated (according to verse 2, Jesus is speaking mainly of them in today’s Scripture). Law-keeping was not about honoring JEHOVAH God who gave it, but rather rule-keeping for rules’ sakes. In fact, they added to the 600-plus laws God had given!! They largely preferred man-made rules, “the commandments of men” (Mark 7:1-13; cf. Colossians 2:8). Israel was burdened by and buried in laws (Matthew 23:4; Acts 15:10; cf. Galatians 4:9)!!!

The Apostle Paul admonished Christian servants (employees) not to work with “eyeservice” (Colossians 3:22-25). It was not to be showy, put-on, eye-catching work done diligently just for the sake of praise; it was to be honest, genuine labor from the heart, whether someone was watching or not.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus exposed how the watered-down Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:14) enabled Israel’s religious leaders to brag about their “broad phylacteries” (large boxes that held many scraps of “paper” with Old Testament verses on them, worn on the forehead or wrist). They loved to wear special clothing (long robes with large fringes; Luke 20:46), to be seen and praised of men because of their long prayer” (Matthew 23:14), to be commended for their “pious” appearance and dedication.

Beloved, avoid those who make such “a fair shew in the flesh” (Galatians 6:12)!

Lip Service

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27a,28 KJV).

Jesus Christ rebukes apostate Christendom with these same words even today.

Not too long ago, I twice met the chief priest of a local major “Christian” church. On his table, I saw a “Holy Bible” and some denominational handbooks. As our conversations progressed, I learned that his denomination did not believe man was “fully fallen.” He admitted that while we are sinners, there is still “some good in everyone.” Evidently, he missed Romans 7:17,18: “Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Although this minister claimed to be a “Bible believer,” I later learned that he did not believe the Bible literally (he freely confessed that to me). He informed me his group only “picked and chose” (his words) what verses to believe and follow (church tradition was equally important, he confessed). The more we conversed, the more he confessed his hypocrisy. Among other things, he asked me to explain Bible inspiration (a trick question). Then, he mentioned several so-called “Bible contradictions” and “errors” so as to attack and undermine the Scriptures. Once I answered all of his questions, he literally laughed at Scripture and hurriedly walked away!

On our next visit a week later, after more discussions about various other doctrines—and just before he hurried away again after repeatedly falling into his own traps—he told me, “You will never convince me.” (I smiled, and replied most politely, “You will never convince me either, but only one of us is right. ‘Let God be true, but every man a liar.’”)

Beloved, imagine, all over the world, such “Christian ministers” are claiming they believe the Bible and professing they serve Jesus Christ, but are literally deceiving and poisoning millions of precious souls! They do not believe the Bible and they discourage us from trusting it, too. May we “mark [identify] them… and avoid them” (Romans 16:17)!

Holy Land to Go

Monday, April 21, 2014

And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD” (2 Kings 5:17 KJV).

What valuable lesson did Naaman learn before he desired to have some Holy Land “to go?”

Captain of the Syrian army, Naaman (a Gentile, non-Jew), is “a mighty man in valour [courage, heroism]” and “a leper” (suffering from a skin disease) (verse 1). When Naaman hears of a prophet (Elisha) in Israel who can heal him of his disease, the king of Syria permits Naaman to visit the land of Israel (verses 2-9). Naaman arrives at Elisha’s home to hear some rather strange advice: he is to wash in the (filthy) Jordan River seven times and be healed of JEHOVAH (verses 10,11). Naaman questions, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage” (verse 12). Upset and disappointed, Naaman refuses to go to Jordan.

A servant of Naaman reasons with him, encouraging him to obey God’s Word through Elisha (verse 13). Naaman finally goes to the Jordan River, still thinking Israel’s God is quite bizarre. “Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (verse 14).

Naaman, utterly shocked, returns to give Elisha a gift, but the prophet refuses (verses 15,16). Representative of the few Gentiles who have faith in Israel’s God, Naaman confesses, “Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.” Earlier, recall that Naaman said Syria’s rivers were better than all of Israel’s bodies of waters (verse 12). After his healing, Naaman recognized JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was the one true God (today’s Scripture). He learned that the land of Israel was unique because the God of Israel was incomparable. In fact, he asked if he could take two loads of Israel’s holy soil back home to Syria!