333’s 1400th – Morning By Morning

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4 KJV).

Today, dear saints, only by the grace of God, we mark our 1400th devotional study!

Beloved, it was 46 months ago today that we began “333 Words of Grace.” After the cancellation of our weekly newspaper Bible study column, this daily devotionals blog was launched to fill that void. Only by God’s grace, we have branched out from our local community to literally scores upon scores of countries all around the world. We never would have dreamed our Lord Jesus Christ would transform our little ministry project into a massive online archive of grace-oriented, brief, clear, daily Bible studies. To the praise of His grace, it is still growing!

From the very beginning, we determined in the Lord to provide sound, high-quality, daily Bible devotionals at no cost. There is ever so much ignorance about Bible matters, even among professing Christians. We hope that our labor here in the Lord has taught and led many into the truths of God’s Word rightly divided. During these last 46 months, we have covered quite a bit of ground in the Holy Bible. Still, we have yet to do it justice. There is so much more yet to learn, so much more exciting truths still to extract from God’s precious Word!

The Christian life is all about learning more and more concerning what Father God is doing. As Jesus Christ Himself testified in today’s Scripture, He was willing to listen to the will of Father God. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things… I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28,29). Every morning, for the last 1,400 days, we have given an ear and an eye to Father God’s Word. We are all so much better off now, but let us not be content to stay where we are. Onward in Christ we must press… morning by morning… onward to #1500! 🙂

P.S.—Brethren, thank you for your continued prayer for this ministry project. Neither your time nor ours have been wasted!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘angels’ food’ of Psalm 78:24-25?

Paradise Lost… And Re-Gained

Monday, March 30, 2015

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 KJV).

This is one of the most well known Bible verses. While it is often used to teach that God created everything, this verse is missing something. What is it?

Has it ever occurred to you that Genesis 1:1 mentions heaven and earth, but makes no reference to hell? A lake of fire and brimstone that burns forever and ever, the most horrible place in which one could be imprisoned, did not exist in Genesis 1:1. It was never God’s intention for such a place to exist. All of God’s creatures were to remain in paradise with Him.

“God created hell” was true only after Lucifer devised his plan of evil and caused an angelic rebellion in God’s perfect creation. The Lord Jesus affirmed that the place of eternal hellfire was never intended for mankind: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). However, mankind chose to join that angelic rebellion. Therefore, he will be consigned to the same punishment to which his leader Satan is destined.

When a lost person goes to hell today, we must never, ever, ever blame God. Creation and our conscience testify that there is a Creator God and that we will face Him in judgment (Romans 1:18-32; Romans 2:13-16). If people want to escape that eternal wrath against our sin, there are Bibles in 90 percent of the world’s languages. There are Christian missionaries and Gospel literature worldwide. Everyone is without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Thus, for one to go to hell is to do so after jumping over every barrier God erected to keep him or her out of hell. If they do not want to know about Jesus Christ and what He did for them at Calvary, that is not God’s fault. “The Lord is… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Because of Adam, man lost paradise and gained hell. But, because of Jesus Christ, man can re-gain paradise and lose hell (Romans 5:1-21)!

Me Whom They Have Pierced

Sunday, March 29, 2015

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10 KJV).

JEHOVAH says, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” What a clear affirmation of the deity of Jesus Christ!

Various and sundry Bible verses can be fulfilled twice—they have a dual application. Moreover, some verses have been completely fulfilled; others have been partly fulfilled (awaiting complete fulfillment). Concerning today’s Scripture, it is fulfilled on two occasions. It was fulfilled 2,000 years ago and it will be fulfilled again in the future. The Prophet Zechariah originally pointed to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming (still future), but the Holy Spirit moved John to use it to refer to His First Advent, too.

“And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced” (John 19:37). Israel looked at Jesus hanging on the cross that Rome had erected to appease them. Revelation 1:7 sees the Second Coming (future), just as Zechariah did in today’s Scripture: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

When Jesus was crucified (John 19:37), He was demonstrated to be the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10. When He will come again, in wrath to avenge Israel against her (His) enemies, Revelation 1:7, He will again prove Himself to be Israel’s Messiah/Christ, her Deliverer/Saviour, the JEHOVAH of today’s Scripture (no wonder the “Jehovah’s Witness” New World Translation corrupts the verse).

After Jesus resurrected, His body still bore the scars from His crucifixion (John 20:25-27). Israel’s believing remnant will see them when He comes back one day. Zechariah 13:6: “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” They will finally see their mistake in rejecting Him. They will finally receive Him whom they pierced!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Could you explain, ‘I will give you the sure mercies of David?’

Boasting Excluded

Saturday, March 28, 2015

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith” (Romans 3:27 KJV).

How plain—there is no room in Christ for boasting!

We all have pride (not to mention those “proud to be humble!”). Hence, God wisely planned there would be no such bragging when it comes to the Gospel of Grace. In His grand design of the plan of salvation for this the Dispensation of Grace, He only requires one thing: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

“Believing in Jesus,” or trusting in (relying on) Jesus, is the only requirement to have eternal life and go to heaven today. Today’s Scripture: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” In this Dispensation, there is no physical circumcision, water baptism, Law-keeping, Sabbath-day observance, repentance, or confession of sins, necessary for salvation. The principle today is “of faith,” not “of works.” “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (verse 28).

Thus, not one person can brag, “I out-gave you to get into heaven! I out-prayed you, I out-joined you, I out-attended you, I out-did you, blah, blah, blah.” Either we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, or we have not. Thus, those in Christ are equal (heaven-bound), and those outside of Christ are equal (hell-bound). Those who are in Christ have believed Him equally and are secure in Him equally—there are no “more-saved” or “less-saved” Christians.

Ultimately, not only is boasting excluded, but worry is, too. We did not get into Christ because of our works; thus, we cannot be put out of Christ because of our works. What a marvelous salvation! 🙂

Our Weakness and God’s Strength

Friday, March 27, 2015

“Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake” (John 13:37 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, Peter makes a daring claim, but the Lord knows the frailty of our humanity.

It is not uncommon to exalt Christian leaders as though they were super-humans. No, they do not have sinless lives and “constant faith to move mountains.” Even the Bible characters we love the most, save for the Lord Jesus Christ, they all faltered and stumbled at some point. Peter, the chief of Israel’s apostles, was no exception.

In the Upper Room, just hours before Jesus was betrayed and executed, He told His disciples that He was going away (verse 33). Peter, ignorant of Calvary, and all the events leading up to it, inquires, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Verse 36 continues, “Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Today’s Scripture is Peter’s response: Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.”

Jesus tells Peter, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (verse 38). And yes, despite Peter’s great efforts to fight off Jesus’ arresters with a sword (John 18:10-11), Peter lost his courage. All the disciples fled, actually (Mark 14:50). To make matters worse, Peter three times denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). The poor man “wept bitterly” when he heard the rooster crow. As his Lord’s eyes fixed on him, he remembered the prediction, “The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” We can only imagine Peter’s anguish and Jesus’ sadness!

Dear friends, we can make to God all the promises we want, but we will fail at some point. Thank goodness He does not fail us like we fail Him! “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep [guard] that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:11).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are all Christians ‘ambassadors?’

The Five W’s of Denominationalism

Thursday, March 26, 2015

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8 KJV).

Beware of the “five W’s of denominationalism!”

Beloved, be careful, Satan’s “ministers of righteousness” are lurking (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). They aim to pollute your mind and cause you to forget that you are “complete [lacking nothing] in Christ” (Colossians 2:10)! Religion’s five-step plan will take a Christian’s mind off of God’s provisions for them given in Christ Jesus, and it will keep lost people’s minds focused on themselves and their efforts to make themselves accepted before God:

  1. Win ‘em! — They convert “unchurched” people to their denomination. Very rarely is a clear Gospel presentation given. Usually the person is still lost, still going to hell, although who appears to be going to heaven because he or she is now a “churched” individual.
  2. Wet ‘em! — They water baptize them, putting their names on the church membership roll. There are ever so many people in the world basing their eternal salvation on a water ceremony. One day, they will learn what a failure that “salvation” is!
  3. Work ‘em! — They give them various rules and regulations to follow for God’s acceptance: “x” number of daily prayers, a very thorough confession of sins, holy book reading, obligatory holy days or feast days, generous almsgiving and other “donations.” Even the clergy have difficulty remembering and obeying all those ecclesiastical laws!
  4. Whip ‘em! — They punish people who do not perform as the denomination demands: excommunication, shunning, threats about how God will curse them, how they are disobeying God or blaspheming His name or Spirit, et cetera.
  5. Watch ‘em! — They watch to see if their members straighten up or if they need more church discipline. They may send scouts to spy on suspicious members. If someone is caught “out of line,” it is time for another strike with the “whip!”

Oh, what a “weak and beggarly” system religion is (Galatians 4:9)! Oh, but what a strong and rich system grace is! We are accepted before God by simple faith in Jesus Christ! Friends, may we not let religion rob us of such clarity and simplicity! 🙂

A Love Letter, Not a Dust Collector

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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

You are hereby exhorted to read the Scriptures and learn doctrine!

Earlier this week, I received an email reply from someone I had emailed nearly four years ago! My unopened message sat in her inbox for all those years until someone recently showed her how to finish setting up that account. Till she replied, I had forgotten all about it. Imagine my delight when we finally made contact!

Similarly, God wrote the King James Bible to us, a love letter, written in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, transmitted through history with the blood of His saints. Yet, there it sits on people’s bookshelves as a dust collector for years! Occasionally, it is taken out to construct a family tree, or put on the coffee table to decorate the room, but it is rarely utilized for its intended purpose. Sadly, time is spent on everything but what matters most. Mainly, these distractions are televisions, computers, and cell phones. People do not put God’s eternal Word in their eternal souls, so out in eternity, what will they have? For the lost, it will be one great strike against them at the Great White Throne Judgment! For Christians, it will be a tremendous loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ!

Oh, beloved, my dear readers, may we not spurn the wonderful Word of God and the wonderful grace of God! May we blow the dust off His Book’s cover and actually read it for once. Consider the lost people who spend their whole lives—70 or 80 years—pursuing vanity and worthlessness. Without Jesus Christ, they go to hell. They could have spent 30 minutes reading the first five chapters of Romans. In that half-hour, they could have learned how to be saved from their sins, and they could have believed the Gospel and gone to heaven. They had many decades to read God’s Word. Now all they have is time without the Bible—eternity in hell!

Whether saved or lost, let us take time today to read and believe Romans chapters 1-5. It will be well worth the 30 minutes! 🙂

But Whom Say Ye That I Am?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matthew 16:15 KJV).

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

As His earthly ministry was winding down, just prior to visiting Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus traveled to northern Israel: “[13] When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I am? [14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Have you ever met anyone confused about Jesus’ identity? His disciples had met many such individuals. Imagine the nonsense they heard! Jesus is John the Baptist?! Elijah?! Jeremiah?! They had every name but the right one!

Jesus replied in today’s Scripture: But whom say ye that I am?” He asked His disciples, “Do you have a plausible explanation of Me? The average Jew does not have a clue, but have you? Have you been paying attention to My words and deeds these last three years?”

“[16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

Jesus commended Simon Peter for his faith. The simple fisherman, neither a student nor a graduate of “Saint Peter’s Seminary,” could see God’s Word ever so clearly! Through John the Baptist, Father God had borne witness of Jesus of Nazareth as being His Anointed (His Christ, His Son)—see John 1:15-42. Peter had heard and believed John’s message about Jesus. The heart of the Gospel of the Kingdom was that Jesus was Israel’s King-Christ and God’s Son—there was no death, burial, and resurrection as payment for our sins, revealed as of yet (that would come later with Paul).

In short, it really does not matter what lost people think of Jesus Christ. We know that He is God’s only begotten Son, and who died for our sins and rose again—He is our one and only Saviour and that alone matters.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can the Bible say, ‘No man hath seen God at any time?’

The Apocalypse, God’s Lips, and Our Mouths

Monday, March 23, 2015

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 KJV).

What is the “Apocalypse” and how can it be honey from God’s lips to our mouths?

A Christian brother told me he utterly feared the Book of the Revelation. Doubtless a saved man, certain of his home in heaven because of the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary on his behalf. Yet, in light of Revelation 22:18-19, he dreaded studying that last Bible book: he feared “adding to it” or “taking away from it” would bring God’s chastisement on him. The poor brother had to learn that that warning is given to unbelievers in Israel’s program, not us believers (members of the Body of Christ) in this the Dispensation of Grace.

While people often use the term “Apocalypse” in religious senses, they usually have little to no grasp of what the term means in the Bible. The first word of the Revelation is apokalupsis—“revelation, unveiling, uncovering.” As the (Greek) Bible uses it, “Apocalypse” describes the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS is hidden in the third heaven, having not been seen in 2,000 years, exiled since His beloved nation Israel rejected Him. The door to the third heaven is currently closed, but one day it will swing open, and out will ride the Lord Jesus Christ! He will be leading tens of thousands of angelic soldiers to purge Earth of all its unbelievers, utterly slaughtering those who have persecuted His Israel—stolen her land and killed her people. Just as Satan’s plan of evil crescendos, and it looks hopeless, the God of creation wins and then reigns over all creation!

No wonder John wrote to Israel in Revelation 1:3: “Blessed [happy] is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The book of the Revelation (“Apocalypse”) came from God’s lips; it should be as sweet honey to our mouths! Let us read it. It comforts us that evil will lose in the end, and our Saviour will be exalted in the end. Let us use our mouths to praise His holy name! 🙂

A Rude Apostle

Sunday, March 22, 2015

“But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge…” (2 Corinthians 11:6a KJV).

Just how was Paul “rude?”

The Greek word translated “rude” in today’s Scripture is idiotes (from which we get “idiot”). It would be helpful to see how our 1611 translators rendered that word elsewhere.

First, Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Then, 1 Corinthians 14:16: “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” The word “unlearned” appears in verses 23 and 24 as well. “Ignorant” or “unlearned” means “untaught, uneducated, in a particular subject.”

“Rude” in today’s Scripture did not mean that Paul spoke offensive, nasty language; it was “rude” as in rudimentary (basic, simple, plain). Paul knew proper Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—he had been trained under the guidance of Gamaliel, the chief rabbi of that time. He was highly educated in literature, history, and religion. Jesus Christ even taught him doctrine never before revealed. In short, Paul was no idiot. But, he did not use his education to form statements that would manipulate people to make them do or believe. Unlike Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), Paul chose not to be an eloquent speaker.

“[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. [4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: [5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1,4,5).

Many church leaders need to understand this simple fact. According to God the Holy Spirit, it is not about using highly technical theological terms and defending complex denominational dogmas. It is all about using plain, simple language that common people (even children) can understand and believe. Remember, the King James Bible is sixth-grade English for a reason!