Looks Can Be Deceiving!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV).

A friend recently text-messaged me with what I thought was a picture of a mutual friend. She called to say that that man was in fact not our friend. It was some stranger that had amazed her because he could have passed for our friend’s twin! When our friend’s wife saw the photo, even she thought it was her husband! The only one who knew the truth was the woman circulating the image.

Over the years, I have seen many such “twins.” They bore a striking resemblance to individuals I knew, but I knew they were not them for various reasons (the people I knew were dead, in another part of the world, et cetera). Thus, friends, we should be very careful when appealing to “resemblances” as basis for reality. For example, something may appear or sound true, but that does not necessarily make it true. People can talk about “Jesus,” but may not actually be serving Him or truly speaking on His behalf. They can sing Gospel hymns, and yet not know what the Gospel even is. Bible expositors can deliver word and topical studies, but they are not automatically Bible authorities. A church can claim to be “Christian” and be anything but!

Look at today’s Scripture. Satan is the master counterfeiter. The Devil’s primary method of operation is to mimic, or counterfeit, what God is doing today, what He has done in the past, or what He will do in the future. Satan is not the least bit threatened that there are Bibles worldwide because he knows most people do not even know how to use Scripture anyway. They fail to realize that he most definitely endorses Bible verses—just as long as they are not quoted rightly divided. Satan actually quoted Scripture to the Lord Jesus Himself in Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:10-11! Yea, looks can be deceiving!

(And, with that, beloved, we close six full years of “333 Words of Grace!” Praise our Lord Jesus Christ!)

Bible Q&A #385: “Should we plead the blood of Jesus?

Abram Did It Man’s Way

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:2 KJV).

Abram “hearkened to the voice of Sarai—the verse does not say, “the voice of God!”

We do not know how long Abram waited to see the promised seed God would give him. The Bible gives us an estimate of at least 25 years (Abram entered the land of Canaan around age 75, Genesis 12:4 says, and Genesis 21:5 claims he was 100 when Isaac was born). Some people speculate that it could have been as much as 50 years (since Genesis 12:1-3 was spoken sometime back in chapter 11—how long that was, the Bible is silent). We will stick by the Bible and say at least 25 years. Friend, imagine waiting 25 years for God to do something He promised you He would do on your behalf!

Beloved, Abram was just as human as we are. He held out for about 10 years, before finally listening to his wife Sarai and having a child with her handmaid Hagar (see today’s Scripture—yea, Genesis 16:1-16). This was not something God commanded but rather something Sarai devised. As it turned out, it was not the “God-taking-so-long-to-work” that resulted in a problem; it was man’s “quick fix” that ultimately proved to be so detrimental to Abram and his family. That child he fathered apart from God’s will (Ishmael) now has descendants (Arabs) who persecute the child God gave him through promise (Isaac) and the little nation Israel descended from Isaac and grandson Jacob. This problem, starting out as a silly woman’s bad idea, has plagued the Middle East for 4,000 years now!

If we can learn anything at all, friends, it is this. It is better to wait on faithful God for decades, Him bringing a result that will actually work and last eternally; than depend on our fellow man, as frail as we, to develop a “quick fix” that will disappoint forever! Rather than doing it man’s way, let us do it God’s way!

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 29, 2017

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

The Comforter and Teacher

Sunday, May 28, 2017

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26 KJV).

The Holy Bible is a progressive revelation: God gradually made known His Word to mankind throughout history. He knew the end from the beginning, but He chose not to tell the end at the beginning. As the end came closer, it became clearer. Here, we see the “New Testament” Scriptures predicted—God the Holy Spirit’s method of comforting, coming alongside to aid and strengthen, God’s people.

When God the Father sent the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2, the Spirit caused Israel’s believing remnant—especially the 12 Apostles—to remember everything that Jesus taught them during the previous three years (His earthly ministry). See today’s Scripture. They did not have to rely on fallible human memory; they had the omniscient, omnipotent Holy Ghost guiding their minds and hearts, giving them the final pieces of information needed to understand their prophetic program.

The early Acts period (chapters 1-7) and the Bible Books of Hebrews through Revelation provide details not found in Genesis through Malachi and Matthew through John. The Lord Jesus predicted in today’s Scripture that Israel’s Little Flock would receive the capstone of knowledge as touching the prophetic program. They would see how everything fit together so beautifully, and they would be able to appreciate what God had planned in eternity past. Despite everything that Satan and evil men would do to sabotage God’s plan for the Earth, they would be unable to overcome Him.

Compare today’s Scripture to what Jesus spoke later, John 16:12-14: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” In our Bible, inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit, we see the result of the prophetic program too!

Answering a Matter

Saturday, May 27, 2017

“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13 KJV).

Behold, herein is wisdom for every persuasion!

Long ago, a wise and older Christian brother told me, “People cannot take a stand for anything because they do not know anything.” (Those words have never left me. They have become increasingly apparent in the years since I heard them.) The “people” were actually professing Christians. He was lamenting how he, in his 40 years of being a Christian, and nearly two decades of church leadership, had known some really pitifully ignorant church members. Lacking a sound foundation in the Scriptures, they could not distinguish truth from error. They would hear the “matters,” but it was “folly and shame unto [them]” because they would “answer” the matters by siding with the errors! Those outside of Christendom fare no better.

For example, I recently had an online encounter with a Bible scoffer. This individual did not compose one true statement about the Scriptures—it was merely false information. No legitimate arguments were leveled against the Bible. Nothing factual was offered. Rather, the ridiculer, parading as an “authority,” merely employed stereotypes and misconceptions (which, of course, I exposed as fallacious). Sadly, Christians, without any factual data themselves, are often guilty of answering the scoffers. The scoffer further mocks because the Christian knows too little about the skeptic’s position—no marvel because Christians are frequently uninformed concerning their own beliefs!

Friends, whether skeptics or Bible believers, we would do well to listen to others before we evaluate their claims. We Christians know today’s Scripture: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Though you may dislike the Bible, you skeptics would agree with it here and you would do especially well to heed it on this point. The Bible says that those who rashly comment on something they have never heard or studied appear foolish and disgraceful. This is applicable to both scoffers (unversed in the Scriptures) answering Bible believers, and Bible believers (unskilled in the pertinent skepticism) answering scoffers.

No Light in Them

Friday, May 26, 2017

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19,20 KJV).

Why is there “no light in them?”

Circa 700 B.C., the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Isaiah cautioned Israel in today’s Scripture to be very careful who they let guide them in spiritual matters. After all, just like today, Satan had a counterfeit religious system with preachers and precepts. Israel was admonished to stay close to God’s revealed Word to them, particularly the Mosaic Law (the foundation of their God-given religion). The Law was their standard of truth; conflicting teachings were to be ignored. God told Israel that, if someone disagreed with “the law and the testimony,” that person had “no light in them.” That is, there was spiritual ignorance.

In Romans chapter 1, we see how God gave up the evil Gentile nations back in Genesis chapter 11: “[21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (cf. Ephesians 4:17-19). Sinful man experiences this spiritual darkness when he rejects the revelation from and of God. JEHOVAH God told Israel to avoid such people. Moreover, Jesus said of Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the common Jews: “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).

Sadly, such “blind leaders of the blind” have infiltrated and subverted most “Christian” schools and churches for the last 2,000 years. Hence, many preachers deliver “Bible lessons” that are nothing but spiritual nonsense—“warmed-over” philosophical speculations of men. Gullible Christians, not grounded in sound Bible doctrine, sit under such “instructors,” ultimately deviating from God’s truth themselves even further. Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry (1 Corinthians 2:1-16), they attempt to make sense of the Scriptures in their own minds, to no avail. “It is because there is no light in them!”

Shine as Lights #10

Thursday, May 25, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

When Paul’s converts—whether the Philippians of old, or us today—follow by faith those principles of grace the ascended Lord Jesus Christ entrusted to him, they are preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ. We want to have this “gold, silver, precious stones” (sound Bible doctrine) stored up in our inner man: we want to have as little as possible of “wood, hay, stubble” (worthless teaching) (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).

All members of the Church the Body of Christ are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s 2,000-year-long ministry through the Apostle Paul. Brethren, if we walk now by faith in the Dispensation of Grace, Romans through Philemon, there will be so much rejoicing on Paul’s part at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Moreover, all Christians will see the results of their ministries fully exposed, also rejoicing in how God used them to benefit other Christians. (I look forward to seeing you there, dear brethren!)

Immediately after the Judgment Seat of Christ, Father God will gather all His “lights” (members of the Body of Christ), and literally light up the heavens with them! Romans 8:18,19 says: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” What a day that “manifestation” of “glory” will be!

We began this series with a quote by a brother who has since moved to Heaven. Accordingly, to conclude, we use another quote from him: “We are the only Bible this careless world will read. We are God’s signboards in a sinful world. Men watch us, and they judge Jesus by the way we live, work, act, and talk.” Think as lights—“shine as lights!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A articles: “What is ‘the botch of Egypt?’” and “What are ‘emerods?’