Darkness and Light

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is proof that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are truly higher than ours!

As Jesus Christ hung on Calvary for those last three hours, there was spiritual darkness over all the earth and “the sun was darkened” (Matthew 27:45,46; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44,45). God the Father and God the Holy Ghost had forsaken God the Son (Matthew 27:46), and the physical darkness hid from the onlookers that most horrific portion of Christ’s crucifixion. We can only wonder what His disciples were thinking as they, in complete darkness, heard Him crying out in agony to His Heavenly Father. Satan and his policy of evil were working their mightiest, as Jesus had said to those who were arresting Him: “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).

That (spiritual) darkness has yet to be lifted from this planet. We still live in a world where spiritual ignorance and spiritual wickedness abound, whereas we Christians are “light in the Lord,” and we should “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8-17). As Romans 13:12 says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand [approaching]: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”

Thankfully, there is coming a day when the night will end, when Jesus Christ returns to Earth in all His radiance, He will shine forth in the skies and, via His blood shed 2,000 years ago, usher in spiritual healing for the nation Israel: “but unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings…” (Malachi 4:2). The darkness will be past and the light will shine forth. Before the light could come, Jesus Christ had to face the darkness, that we children of darkness could become children of light today in our Dispensation of Grace, and that Israel could become children of light when He returns! What wisdom!

Meek and Mighty

Monday, September 29, 2014

And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is proof that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are truly higher than ours!

Galilean king Herod Antipas and Judaean governor Pontius Pilate had heard much of this Jesus of Nazareth these last three years, but, so far as Scripture is concerned, they did not personally meet Him until His final hours alive. To them, He did not appear as royalty. Firstly, He had allowed Himself to be captured peacefully. Then, He let soldiers harshly abuse Him. Finally, He remained mostly silent during their many extensive interrogations leading up to His crucifixion. Pilate “marvelled greatly” (Matthew 27:11-14). Those watching Jesus die were equally shocked. “This is the King whom JEHOVAH God sent to rescue us? He is now helpless on the cross!”

Little did mankind know that Messiah would come twice—once to suffer and die as Saviour, again to judge and reign as King. Neither the prophets nor the angels could understand (1 Peter 1:9-12). Now, with the completed Bible canon, we see it all quite clearly. One is His meek coming (Zechariah 9:9) and the other is His mighty coming (Zechariah 14:3). Before Messiah Jesus could be manifested with power on His majestic Davidic throne, He had to first go to Calvary’s cruel cross. The scoffers did not understand it, but even if God had revealed it, they still would not have cared to know His truth.

In Father God’s own timing, He will reveal from heaven Jesus Christ in “flaming fire,” to take vengeance on those who do not know the God of Scripture and those who refuse to humble themselves and trust the Gospel of His Grace as sufficient payment for their sins (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Jesus Christ came the first time, not to save Himself, but to save us, to suffer God’s wrath on our behalf, that we trust Him alone as Saviour now, that we not have to suffer God’s wrath against our sin when comes the second time, when He proves again that He is “the chosen of God!” What wisdom!

Common and Uncommon

Sunday, September 28, 2014

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is proof that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are truly higher than ours!

When God the Holy Spirit formed His human body in the virgin Mary’s womb, He crafted an ordinary frame of dust (minus the sin nature). From all outward appearance, He looked common; lacking external beauty, He was exceptional on the inside, it was the very life of God Himself inside! “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). If Jesus stood in a crowd of Jewish men, you could not distinguish Him!

The secular world has a bias, a paradigm that one must be physically attractive to succeed, be materially wealthy to make a difference, have advanced degrees to be authoritative, and so on. (Little do they know that most Christians who literally changed the world were none of those!) The religious world has its own concept about those whom God would use—a smooth-talking, charming, overly optimistic, unrealistic, seminary graduate dressed in expensive attire. (Little do they know that Jesus was none of those, but He literally changed the world too!)

The God of the Bible always thinks differently from us humans, just as He said in Isaiah 55:8,9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Physically marred beyond the ordinary, on Calvary, Jesus died that our disfigured sinful souls be made stunning (justified) in God’s sight (Colossians 3:1-17), that these ordinary sinful bodies of flesh and blood would one day be fashioned like His extraordinary, glorious resurrected body (Philippians 3:20,21), that we not have a typical life hereafter, but an extraordinary life, “life more abundantly” (John 10:10). What wisdom!

Death and Life

Saturday, September 27, 2014

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is proof that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are truly higher than ours!

Jesus’ disciples witnessed their King’s slow and painful death, but they could do nothing to help Him. They were in total shock. All their dreams of His earthly kingdom were shattered. They had such high hopes to be rescued from the oppressive Gentiles, especially the Romans, and they had so looked forward to enjoying their literal, physical, visible Davidic kingdom. When Jesus’ corpse was taken down and laid in His tomb, they figured their dreams were buried with Him. They could not wrap it around their minds, how God’s Son could give Himself up so easily to sinful men.

On this side of the cross, we can see into God’s mind, to grasp what He knew as Jesus hung on Calvary and exactly what He was doing as His beloved Son suffered on Calvary’s cruel cross. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20). “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:5). Jesus Christ was killed, that our sin nature be put to death with Him, and He was bodily resurrected, that we might be raised with Him.

The God of the Bible always thinks differently from us humans, just as He said in Isaiah 55:8,9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Jesus Christ appeared to be weak and defeated on Calvary, but as God saw it, He was crucified so that we could be crucified with Him, that our sin nature be put to death, that we receive a new life, His resurrection life! What wisdom!

Damnation and Salvation

Friday, September 26, 2014

“And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them, derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God” (Luke 23:35 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is proof that God’s ways and God’s thoughts are truly higher than ours!

Imagine that you literally and physically stood right before Calvary’s cross as Jesus hung on it. You would see a truly awful sight, a body so disfigured that the Bible says it did not resemble that of a human. “As many as were astonied at thee; his visage [appearance, particularly his face] was so marred [disfigured] more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14). It is doubtless that those who actually witnessed it ever forgot that scene they saw on Golgatha, when the Son of God was crushed under the weight of Father God’s wrath and man’s wrath.

From all outward appearance, Jesus had lost. The Roman and Jewish governments had finally arrested their chief enemy and had condemned Him to death. He was now nailed to a cross, wearing nothing—His lacerated skin rubbed against the splintered wood as He pushed Himself upward to exhale. It was becoming harder to breathe, and the onlookers taunted Him (today’s Scripture; cf. Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-32). “You saved others and You cannot save Yourself! Come down from the cross and we will believe You!” (They fulfilled Psalm 22:7,8, written almost 1,000 years earlier.)

The God of the Bible always thinks differently from us humans, just as He said in Isaiah 55:8,9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Jesus Christ appeared to be weak and defeated on Calvary, but as God saw it, He stayed there so that His damnation would result in our salvation. He could have saved Himself, but then He would not have saved us! He chose not to save Himself—He chose to save us instead! What wisdom! What selflessness!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “I am new to the Bible. Where should I begin?

Eternal Life or Folly Forever

Thursday, September 25, 2014

“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3 KJV).

Like the Galatians, many today are “foolish,” not thinking clearly, assuming our salvation unto eternal life is gained or enhanced by our frail efforts!

Organized religion always urges us to do something to “enhance” our Christian life—tongue talking, aisle walking, sin confession, holy-day obligation, prayer recitation, generous donation, water rites, visits to holy sites. To varying degrees, every group pushes external activities, either to gain your salvation, to prove your salvation, or to keep your salvation. Undeniably, to arrive at such conclusions, they had to completely ignore the six Bible chapters, 149 verses, and 3,098 words known as “the book of Galatians.” As 1 Timothy 1:7 says, these works-religion people have no idea what they are saying or what they are insisting.

Friends, to corrupt the grace of God into a works-message is the most damnable of all teachings. It is strong language, but here is the plain truth. Either Jesus Christ paid for all our sins at Calvary’s cross, or He did not; either His performance was and is enough, or it was and is not ( He should have stayed in heaven then!).

To put our dirty, sinful fingers around God’s holy collar and demand He give us a place in heaven because we did a few “good” works is utterly silly; Jesus Christ did more than a few good works, and, unlike us, He was no sinner. On Calvary’s cross, He suffered your second death, the pain so deserving us in hellfire. What would take you eternity to do, He satisfied God’s righteousness in just a fraction of a day! God does not want reformation of deeds; He wants Jesus Christ to be in you to do good works (Galatians 2:20,21). We need a new nature, not just a change in lifestyle.

If our dear religious family members and friends could grasp these simple Bible truths, it would literally save them an eternity of regret! Jesus Christ’s shed blood paid the price, and His resurrection gives us new life. We can trust in Him alone, and He will do the rest! (Or we can continue in our folly.)

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Does God intervene in my life? If so, how?

Upside Down and Right-Side Up

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:6,7 KJV).

We find ourselves in a similar “trial” today!

When the Holy Spirit first preached the Gospel of Grace through the Apostle Paul and his ministry coworkers, the pagans said Jesus Christ’s ministers had turned the whole world “upside down” (today’s Scripture)—technically, right-side up! The Gospel of Christ had rippled through the cultures of the Roman Empire. Untold hundreds had abandoned heathen beliefs, practices, and temples, and were now rejoicing in God’s grace to them in Jesus Christ.

Today, since the last few decades, but particularly the last 10 years, the dominant Christian voice has become increasingly suppressed here in our beloved United States of America. Nowadays, pagan culture is infiltrating us—the reverse of the first century. What was right-side up because of Christianity is now returning to upside-down (pagan religion and culture).

Bible-believing Christians, we should be concerned, but let us not lose hope. If the Word of God prospered in a pagan world as it did throughout the book of Acts, it will surely prosper here as our culture slips into paganism. Despite all the persecution—the imprisonment, torturing, and execution—of believers, we read, “And the word of God increased…” (Acts 6:7). “But the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed(Acts 19:20). No matter what happens, God’s Word will never return to Him void/empty; it will prosper wherever He sends it (Isaiah 55:11).

While my generation and younger ones are distracted in the world, we should still proclaim the King James Bible rightly divided, for it contains the solutions to the problems they will face in the coming decades. As long as we get God’s Word out there, it will take care of itself (it has for 2,000 years). Let us be faithful stewards of God’s precious words now, that the future faithful remnant perpetuate them (2 Timothy 2:2).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Could you please explain Romans 2:14?

Canker

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

“And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus” (2 Timothy 2:17 KJV).

Exactly what is a “canker” anyway?

Today’s Scripture confirms that our King James Bible abounds with various and sundry unique terms. We rarely use the word “canker,” but we see in it “cancer” (“canker” is related to the Latin, cancer). As some interesting side-notes, that Greek word is only used once in our King James, and it is gaggraina (from a Greek word meaning “to gnaw”). When pronounced, you can almost hear “gangrene,” and that is exactly what a “canker” is. Medically, “gangrene” is the death of a large amount of living tissue, due to obstructed circulation or a bacterial infection. But the Bible is using “canker” figuratively in today’s Scripture, not literally.

The “canker” of today’s Scripture is, “a malign and corrupting influence that is difficult to eradicate.” As a canker attacks healthy physical tissue, so false doctrine will eat away at a Christian’s soul. The person once alive with Jesus Christ’s life (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:4) is now shriveling spiritually; they are still saved and on their way to heaven, but they have been distracted from the grace doctrines that describe the Christian life. They, having lost sight of their identity in Christ, are now operating in the flesh, on their own, on human viewpoint, cut off from the life-giving words of God.

Just prior to today’s Scripture, the Holy Ghost through Paul wrote, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (verse 16). Notice how the canker not only spreads, but it also consumes more and more. Once a little false teaching creeps in, the whole lump will eventually be leavened, corrupted (Galatians 5:9)—damage difficult to undo. Immediately before Paul wrote 2 Timothy 2:16, he wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (verse 15).

Verse 18 says that Hymenaeus and Philetus were not using the Scriptures dispensationally, and they were misleading Christians regarding the timing of the Rapture (sound familiar?). Yea, “rightly dividing the word of truth” is a matter of life or death, for it keeps out a life-threatening canker!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Were there people ‘in Christ’ before Paul?

To Save Some

Monday, September 22, 2014

“…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b KJV).

We do what we can to reach the lost for Christ, but remember we will only “save some!”

The Christian soul-winner always has an array of interesting encounters and/or conversations with people. Some days ago I was passing out Gospel tracts and I met this one older gentleman. I asked him, “Would you care to have your sins forgiven, and to learn how to have a home in heaven?” He quickly replied, “No thanks, I already have one.” Whatever he meant about “having one,” I had no idea; I had never given him a tract before. I inquired, “So you already have the assurance of salvation and a home in heaven?” His reply was the classic, “I think so.” My final appeal was, “You can still take this Gospel tract so you can know.” He replied, “No thanks.” I moved on after saying, “Thank you.”

After that, there was an empty feeling deep inside of me. This man had no idea that he was headed to an everlasting devil’s hell, but he was completely unconcerned. Remember, dear friends, we cannot force people to be saved. If we could make their choices for them, we would in a heartbeat, but that would not be faith and that would not be free will.

No matter what we say, there are some people who do not want to hear anything about Jesus Christ. No matter how kind we are, they still do not want to hear the truth. There is nothing more that we can do for them. There comes a point in time when we simply have to move on, to not get hung up on those who are too stubborn to realize their need for the Savior Jesus Christ. Our Apostle knew that he would not save “many,” “most,” or “all;” he would only save “some” (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 11:14). Let us conserve our time and energy for those who do want to hear the precious words of God.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?

Blind Leaders of the Blind

Sunday, September 21, 2014

“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14 KJV).

May we not “blindly” follow the blind leaders of the blind!

Once, on religious television programming, a “Christian” author was interviewed to publicize his latest “sensationalistic” book. He alleged that Israel’s religious calendar predicted events in American history, and that our economic-financial future is written in Israel’s Old Testament calendar. While he repeatedly declared that he was “not setting dates,” he did indicate that next year seemed noteworthy in light of a special pattern of events he discovered (?). This gentleman may have meant well, but his theology was unsound. He encouraged us to take Israel’s verses, and try to fit them on us. This is not a reliable way to use the Bible—to insert people, nations, dates, into unrelated verses, is precarious spiritual ground.

While I did not buy his book—I use God’s money more wisely than that!—I did skim through it at a store. Out of his 270 pages, I counted roughly 55 verses quoted (some verses were used two or three times); much of his book was history or idle speculation, not Scripture. He quoted verses from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Joel, Matthew, and John. How many verses directly applied to us? None! How many verses described anything that God is doing today? Not a one! It was all Israel’s verses. His “plan of salvation” verses were John 3:3 and John 3:16. These are the books and authors worth publicizing on Christian television? These people are leading most of our churches? How sad—no wonder Christianity is “in the ditch,” so confused!

In the opening verses of Matthew chapter 15, our Lord Jesus severely rebuked the formalists of His day—the Pharisees who focused more on appearing good than having the eyes of faith to see and believe God’s Word. They had a nice outward show, but they were hypocrites inside. Some of Jesus’ disciples tell Him that His remarks offended the Pharisees. Today’s Scripture was His reply. We can almost hear it echo regarding most church leaders today! Beware!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is ‘the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?’