Light Bulbs and Lenses #6

Saturday, September 30, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Being saved from sin unto eternal life is exciting enough, but there is (as someone once said) “truth within truth.” There is more to God’s plan than simply keeping us out of Hell. Most believers in Christ, however, never get beyond that simple fact. We have to move onward, dear brethren!

As per 1 Timothy 2:4, God’s plan also involves “com[ing] unto the knowledge of the truth.” In 2 Timothy 2:15, we read: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” All the Bible is true, but not all of it is true today. God’s dealings with man change through time because man changes. Remember, He selected Paul to communicate a special set of doctrine to us Gentiles. At the heart of that message is the “all-men” Gospel. That information was unknown prior to Paul.

Titus chapter 1: “[1] Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; [2] In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; [3] But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;….” And, Acts 20:24: “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Moving from a simple Gospel message, we progress to the “understanding” part. Remember, today’s Scripture says: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” From the moment of our trusting Christ onward, we should continue walking in the light we have. The same genuine interest we had in being saved into Heaven, we should continue to have in Bible understanding. There is more in Scripture than salvation from the penalty of sin. We also find salvation from the power of sin….

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “Why did Paul quote Habakkuk in Acts 13:41?

Light Bulbs and Lenses #5

Friday, September 29, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Unless one is a Calvinist or a Dispensationalist, Matthew 20:28 is quite alarming: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” How could Jesus Christ say that He had come to “give his life a ransom for many?” For “many?!” Did He not die for the whole world? At the time of His earthly ministry, He came to pay the redemption-price for the nation Israel.

As the angel of the Lord told Joseph in Matthew 1:21 about the virgin Mary: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Surely, “his people” excluded Gentiles. How do we know? Isaiah 53:8, written 700 B.C., predicted of Messiah: “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” Who would be Isaiah’s people? Israel. No Gentiles are in view here.

Returning to 1 Timothy 2:5-7, noting very carefully the final words of verse 6 and all of verse 7: “[5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Through the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit here makes a startling claim. Jesus Christ did not die for Israel only; He paid the sin-debt of the whole world (“all”). Notice the first word of verse 7—“whereunto” (“to which purpose”). In order for Jesus Christ to be declared a ransom for all nations, God appointed Paul “a preacher, and an apostle,… a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Paul is the “due-time testifier” of this unrestricted, worldwide grace message. Now we are branching off into the second part of God’s will… “come unto the knowledge of the truth….”

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “What is the ‘temptation’ in 1 Corinthians 10:13?

Light Bulbs and Lenses #4

Thursday, September 28, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

First Timothy 2:4 says, “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved,….” Then, we read, “…and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Verse 5 begins with “for,” a particle of further explanation or amplification: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;….” So, “the man Christ Jesus” is “the one mediator between [the one] God and men….” Verse 6 issues additional information: “Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Finally, verse 7 expands verse 6, as we see: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

So, there are the matters of (1) “salvation” and (2) “the knowledge of the truth.” “Salvation” involves the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and men, He “who gave himself a ransom for all.” The word “ransom” means “redemption-price.” From birth, we are naturally slaves to sin, descendants of Adam. Jesus Christ shed His blood to pay the price to deliver us from sin’s slave market. Romans chapter 3: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption [payment of the price to free us] that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [fully-satisfying payment] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;….”

Sin brings death, but life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:10-14). “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Through faith in Jesus Christ’s shed blood, we can be united with Father God. (Christ is “the mediator,” remember.) So, God’s first desire is for all people to be “saved”—freed, delivered—from sin’s dominion. The spiritual deliverance at Calvary once reserved for Israel is now available to all people, Jew and Gentile. This all-people message is interwoven with “com[ing] unto the knowledge of the truth….”

Light Bulbs and Lenses #3

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

A most liberating, enlightening Bible passage is 1 Timothy 2:3-7: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” It briefly introduces the two most important issues in the world and it closes with details.

God has a “will” or desire (verse 3). Today, billions of precious people—Christians and non-Christians alike—wonder what they should believe and do. If they could come to realize God’s wishes, life would be a whole lot simpler for them. Whatever He wants accomplished, if they would agree with Him and do what He is doing, then they would know what to believe and know what to do. They do not have to stay in spiritual darkness unless that is their preference.

The above passage stresses two major issues—“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (verse 4). There is the issue of salvation, and there is the issue of coming unto the knowledge of the truth. What do these mean exactly? Saved from what? The knowledge of the truth about what? Friends, we are not left to wonder. If we look closely at the succeeding verses, we see they actually form sub-points to verse 4.

Notice again: “[5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Herein are the light bulbs and lenses….

Light Bulbs and Lenses #2

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Every lost person who has come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has known the initial thrill of total forgiveness of all sins. They have experienced the joy of deliverance from the eternal penalty of sin—Hell and the Lake of Fire. The Bible, what once seemed “nonsensical,” is now viewed as invaluable. There is now a consciousness of sin, something absent prior to coming to Christ. Works-religion, once appearing so “meritorious,” is now recognized as worthless. Almighty God, once thought of as a “distant and cruel ogre,” is now seen as a loving Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary’s cross—His sinless shed blood and resurrection—is appreciated personally. There are eternal life, hope, peace, acceptance, love, and mercy. None of this was known before faith in Jesus Christ.

The above scenarios accentuate the spiritual light that God’s words bring when they are spoken in Gospel preaching and/or written in Gospel literature. It is not until the lost soul becomes a saved soul, that it really begins to realize its former destitution and wretchedness. Many have rightly likened this unto a light bulb being turned on inside the heart. What was hidden in shadows is now manifested. There is a whole new worldview, a strange but fascinating and fitting way of looking at life. However, sadly, spiritual confusion begins to creep in. So many contradictory churches and groups start introducing spiritual darkness. The new Christian soul, still eternally secure in the Lord Jesus Christ, starts experiencing the “lost” mentality it once suffered!

There is a reversion to ignorance. The Gospel and Scripture in general are no longer clear—now muddled by every belief imaginable. The high hopes at the moment of justification, being declared righteous before God, have disappeared. Christian thought and living now seems uncertain and burdensome. Whatever sharp Bible knowledge the soul had is now being worn down. At this point, some Christians just throw away the Bible in hopelessness. They go back to the world, indulging in human evil. Other Christians, still reeling to and fro spiritually, remain in church, simply because human “good” appeals to them.

They all need more light, and lenses….

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “Can you explain 2 Kings 2:23-25?

Light Bulbs and Lenses #1

Monday, September 25, 2017

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130 KJV).

Light… bright… lenses… sight!

Second Corinthians chapter 4 says: “[3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Satan blinds people by using the spiritual darkness of works-religion. However, when God’s words enter the soul, there is light. Verse 6 says: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Today’s Scripture says God’s words give “understanding unto the simple.”

The word “simple” here means “silly, foolish, seducible.” In other words, this uninformed person is actually naïve, believing anything and everything heard. The soul has not been grounded in God’s Word rightly divided, so it is vulnerable to constant major shifts in thought and belief. Imagine someone spending an entire lifetime jumping from religious group to religious group to religious group, or bouncing from theological idea to theological idea to theological idea. This was never God’s intention.

In the A.D. first century, God the Holy Spirit gave the Church the Body of Christ gifted men who wrote, collected, copied, and distributed the completed canon of Scripture. Their ministries culminated in the Holy Bible that we have preserved today (in English, it is the King James Bible). God did this, “[12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:…. [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;…” (Ephesians chapter 4).

Since God’s words give light, and they give understanding to the simple, God gave us those words in a written and preserved form. Alas, much darkness remains, until the soul walks in the light that he or she has….

Christ Loved Me—He Died for Me

Sunday, September 24, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

The Gospel is not personal until it is coupled with personal faith!

Years ago, a Bible teacher gave a presentation to college students. After the lecture, a skeptical pupil approached him to complain. The student objected to the teacher reading Romans 5:8—“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He grumbled that the Bible’s promise was “not personal enough.” Actually, he wanted it to say, “God commendeth his love toward you… Christ died for you” (as in, directed to him personally rather than a group).

Sin causes such people not to appreciate the truths of God’s Word. They have no insight into Scripture, even when a Christian explains it to them. Why? Willful ignorance. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” The key to “knowing of the doctrine” is “will[ing to] do [Father God’s] will.” Some lost people want to know God’s will; hence, they listen to and believe the Gospel preached to them. Others are content where they are, and will use any excuse—even the pettiest—to dismiss Scripture.

Today’s Scripture is a Christian (the Apostle Paul) reckoning—considering true—the application of Calvary’s merits to his personal account. It is only when someone willing to have faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork does one see the individual aspect of Calvary’s merits. An unbeliever who wants to stay dead in sins, does not see the full impact of Christ’s finished crosswork. There is mental assent, an intellectual exercise, but no heart faith that leads to righteousness (Romans 10:10a). The believer sees God’s love as personal, Christ’s death as personal. However, as long as lost people view verses through unbelieving lenses, they will see the verses printed on the page, hear the words proclaimed, but not trust the truth in the heart!

Our latest Bible Q&A article: “Can you explain 2 Timothy 4:13?

Memory in Hell

Saturday, September 23, 2017

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (Luke 16:23-25 KJV).

Hell abounds with torments of all kinds—especially memory!

Several years ago, before “333 Words of Grace” was launched, you may recall our writing ministry in our local newspaper. First, dozens of letters to the editor were submitted for about three years. Then, I had a weekly column for some five months (before cancellation). A dear elderly lady, whom my family had known for decades, read those Bible studies. The last time I met her was about three years ago, at my grandmother’s funeral actually. She mentioned she had read our newspaper ministry when it was active. I was glad to share the Gospel of Grace with her again there at the funeral home. There was no indication she was saved there or any other time I dealt with her.

Recently, I heard that the dear lady went out into eternity earlier this week. I can only wonder where her soul went. After learning the Gospel of Grace from us so many times, did she ever trust Jesus Christ alone as her personal Saviour? Or, did she remain in her vain works-religion? Wherever she is—Heaven or Hell—she is alive right now. She certainly remembers those Bible studies.

Today’s Scripture is clear that people suffering in Hell indeed have memory of their earthly life. Every last one of those damned souls recalls at least one opportunity of a spurned (rejected) Gospel message. There is not a soul down there that had to go there, and that one haunting thought alone is torment enough. Dear friend, you do not have to go to Hell! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Trust Christ, and Him alone… before it is eternally too late!

Relax in Grace

Friday, September 22, 2017

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

“Be careful for nothing”—pray the Pauline way and relax in grace!

Recently, a dear Christian friend underwent a “claustrophobic” medical procedure. She had asked others and me to pray for her because she was terrified of being inside that cramped imaging machine. When I phoned her after the procedure, however, she said that it was not as bad of an experience as she thought it would be. She felt awful that she had “let the Lord down” for not trusting Him. I told her that it the weakness of the flesh, something that she not worry about. Today’s Scripture says we should not worry about worrying.

Being a Christian does not mean that we have automatic peace about everything. The way we experience God’s peace is by praying the Pauline way. Notice today’s Scripture: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Satan seeks to use bad doctrine to injure us internally. Thus, God has designed prayer to lead to the “keeping” (or guarding) of our hearts and minds. Prayer is speaking to God in light of His Word to us. The Word of God spoken to us, then reinforced in us when we pray according to it, will dominate and correct the false doctrine Satan seeks to advance. Thus, anxiety is the result of not praying properly or not praying at all.

Let us remember 2 Corinthians 12:9,10 in all times of difficulty: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Bible Q&A articles #419 & #420: What does ‘implacable’ mean?” and Why does Ephesians conclude with such a ‘dark’ passage?

Rejected (Thrice)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple” (Matthew 12:6 KJV).

Christ Jesus uttered three “greater” statements in this chapter. Why?

Today’s Scripture is the first occurrence. The reference to the Temple actually implies the priest serving in the Temple. There is a “greater priest.”

Next, verse 41: “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” There is a “greater prophet” than Jonah. Finally, verse 42: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” There is a “greater king” than Solomon.

The “Old Testament” predicted Messiah would hold three offices—Prophet, Priest, and King. Deuteronomy 18:18: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (cf. Acts 3:22,23). Jeremiah 23:5: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” Zechariah 6:12: “Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” These three Messianic roles correspond to the three gifts the wise men brought to young Jesus in Matthew 2:11—gold (king), frankincense (priest), and myrrh (suffering prophet).

Today’s Scripture is approximately halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. In verse 14, we read of the first conspiracy to take His life. Israel’s religious leaders hate Him and His Heavenly Father for what they have taught Israel from the beginning. Israel’s national leadership refuses the Lord Jesus as King (ruler), Prophet (preacher), and Priest (intercessor). He gradually withdraws from public ministry. In the next chapter, He switches to parables to hide the truth from those unbelievers.