What Child Is This? #2

Friday, November 30, 2018

“And they [the shepherds] came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:16-18 KJV).

The second verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spears shall pierce Him through,
The cross He bore for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

It was just as the angel of the Lord had told them. The Saviour, Christ the Lord, the King of Israel, was indeed born in Bethlehem, but not in a palace. The shepherds found Him lying in a trough, a structure out of which farm animals ate! How odd!

There were just so many things about Jesus’ nativity that did not make sense in the human mind. Firstly, a virgin had conceived and borne a child. Secondly, the God of creation had confined Himself to a tiny body that could be held in human hands. Thirdly, that the King of Israel had been born in a stinky, dirty barn and His crib was literally a trough. Lastly, that Someone so important did not have thousands of people flocking to His crib. Strange!

As the shepherds left Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus, they spread the news about what they had heard and seen. The Bible says that this audience “wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” They could not fathom how it was possible, either. Even today, the natural (lost) mind of man not only struggles with, but outright refuses, to believe the simple truths of the Bible. They rather rail against and reject that which they do not understand, than acknowledge that they do not know everything and the God of the Bible is wiser than they are. To accept those truths would mean validating how Jesus Christ came to live that He would die for us sinners.

Yet, some hearers believed!

Bible Q&A #560: How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”? (20 pages)

What Child Is This? #1

Thursday, November 29, 2018

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:30-33 KJV).

The first verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.”

Such an event had never before happened in human history. God had promised “the seed of the woman” to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), but it was 4,000 years later that Mary was identified as that “woman.” That the Creator God would take upon Himself the flesh of sinful man, though Himself never being defiled by sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). Unheard of in pagan religions!

The angels understood the Old Testament prophecies about God’s Son being born of a human mother. She was a “virgin,” a young woman (perhaps in her teens) who had never had any sexual relations with a man (Luke 1:34). On the night of Baby Jesus’ birth into the human race—the culmination of humanity added to His deity—the angels appeared in the sky and sang, to encourage the shepherds in the nearby fields to hurry to Bethlehem to see a little Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (Luke 2:8-14).

“[15] And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”

Once the shepherds came to Bethlehem, and found Baby Jesus, they beheld such a strange sight!

Unity in Diversity

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 KJV).

Despite the diversity in the Church the Body of Christ, behold the unity in the Church the Body of Christ!

The Corinthians were carnal, fleshly, selfish saints who were guilty of infighting (1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They had to be taught a lengthy lesson on charity, love in action (1 Corinthians chapter 13). At that time when God the Holy Spirit was still giving out spiritual gifts, the Corinthians used their “gifts” to help themselves and draw attention to themselves. However the Holy Spirit was being revealed to them was not a time for them individually to profit. Ministry at the local assembly was not for them to seek their own good but rather the advancement of those around them.

We should never view ministry as a competition between ourselves and other believers in Christ. If sound Bible doctrine, or grace, is working in us, and sound Bible doctrine is working in them, then we are working to the same end. There should be no envy, as it is the same Holy Spirit. The only reason we would feel covetous is if we were under the impression that it was all about us. We still have so much to learn about grace if we think that the Bible is all about us. We still have so much to learn about the Bible if we think that ministry is all about us. It is (should be) all about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Yes, we all play our own little part, our own unique role, in Father God’s grand scheme of things. He does not need us to participate but He does want us. He does not force us but He does invite us. If we do not have the right attitude, then it is best for us not to get involved in ministry at all. It will do far more damage than good. Saints, despite our diversity, we have unity in Jesus Christ!

Hot Air—And Cold!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits (Ecclesiastes 1:6 KJV).

Behold, a most curious verse in a most interesting place!

Scoffers and skeptics portray the Bible writers as primitive, bumbling ignoramuses. They were not as “sophisticated” as we, “knowledgeable” as we, “enlightened” as we. Whereas they were so “superstitious,” here we are so “scientific.” The fact is, not only do we have an inflated view of ourselves, we hold a naïve view of them.

Earth’s atmosphere circulates in a highly complicated manner. We can think of it as a series of conveyor belts stretching from pole to pole, with “cells” or “belts” swirling up and down (vertically), and north and south (horizontally). Air parcels or air masses, depending on their temperature, will rise (warm) or fall (cool). This movement—greatly influenced by the Sun, Earth’s rotation, and vast ocean basins—drives our winds and the other weather phenomena we experience (as in fronts and storms).

Interestingly, today’s Scripture, written by King Solomon some 3,000 years ago, depicts wind movement just as we understand it according to modern science. The Bible is not a science textbook, but when it speaks of science, it speaks most accurately. Notice the word “circuits.” This is the idea of circles, or loops, or (if you prefer) a series of conveyor belts passing over rollers. The wind “returns” as it cycles around—down, south, up, north; or up, north, down, south. Most aptly, they are termed “wind belts.” Depending on the latitude, north or south of the Equator, wind travels along Earth’s surface in large sweeping motions.

Attempting to grasp the complexities of our natural world is quite exhausting. Our brains are fairly limited, yet our Creator has endowed us with some ability to analyze and understand His handywork. We, being so further removed from creation than the Bible writers, are actually less enlightened. Moreover, despite our technological advances, we (like them) still struggle with the basic challenges of this fallen world. We have yet to eliminate rampant crime, ceaseless war, rank cruelty, extreme poverty, absolute starvation, and so on. The human race, as a whole, has drifted further and further from the LORD God… just like the wind!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?

A Recipe for Disaster

Monday, November 26, 2018

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

Can we possess God’s Word and it not benefit us?

From the time He created man and placed him on Earth, the God of the Bible has extended a message for man’s faith and obedience. While a written Bible was not always available to man, there was God’s spoken Word. That message changed through time because man changed. These individual Divine revelations are “dispensations,” each applicable only for a limited time.

In today’s Scripture (actually beginning back in chapter 3), the writer of the Book of Hebrews recalls Israel’s history. JEHOVAH God had promised them the land of Canaan, but they refused to enter (Numbers chapters 13–14). Hebrews reveals their problem: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (3:19). They did not believe God’s Word to them. No faith!

A person can own a Bible, carry it around, flip through it, read it daily, memorize it, tell others about it, hear it preached at church, and still be out of God’s will and still lack His power. No matter the dispensation, personal faith is always most important before God: “But without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Faith is the key to activating God’s Word in our lives. Once we believe the verses we read or hear, God the Holy Spirit works in us and then outwardly: “…To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He makes the verses a reality in our lives, that we reflect the grace doctrine we believe, and thus He benefits us! 🙂

Teach Others Also

Sunday, November 25, 2018

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2 KJV).

There is much singing in “church” today, much clapping in “church” today, much dancing in “church” today, but scant teaching in “church” today!

Dear readers, it should never be our goal in Bible study to show others how much we know. We should not be motivated to go on a lifelong crusade to prove everyone else wrong. Such is petty and fleshly. Our aim is to teach the truth, God’s truth—the truth of God’s Word “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). If all we ever do is focus on error, then we have inadvertently fallen into Satan’s trap. However, if we just teach the King James Bible as it is written, the lies will eventually be exposed. Alas, more time is spent on everything else. Consequently, the saints starve in tens of thousands of local assemblies worldwide.

The Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, is the Spokesman for the triune Godhead. He is thus called “the Word” (John 1:1,14) and “the Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). God the Father and God the Holy Spirit speak to mankind through the Son. The Spirit caused those words to be written down (inspiration) and sustains them through time (preservation). The Bible was not to provide us with knowledge to inflate ourselves with pride. “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (1 Corinthians 8:1b). “Charity” is love in action, seeking the other person’s highest good.

First Timothy chapter 1: “[3] As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, [4] Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. [5] Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:….” Provided we stay with Pauline doctrine—not changing it but rather preaching it—the Spirit of God will work to produce charity in and through us, transferring it to our hearers who can then pass it on to others.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘present distress’ of 1 Corinthians 7:26?

Poor—Times Two!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour (Proverbs 19:4 KJV).

If the prosperous man loses his money, he will likely lose his friends too!

A famous multibillionaire once stated that he would like to temporarily lose his fortune. Why? He was curious as to who would remain loyal to him and who would abandon him. For once, his true friends would be apparent—if he had any. While he likely did not realize it, he was communicating the truth found in today’s Scripture (cf. Proverbs 14:20). The affluent members of mankind enjoy their extravagant, packed social gatherings. While it is certainly not a sin to be well-to-do, one does run the risk of unwittingly associating with phonies. “Friends” accumulate with the money. Eventually, they desire you to become their “lender,” among other favors. Once the bank accounts run dry, the contacts quickly say “goodbye!”

While most inconvenient, the fact is that no friendship is immune from destruction or hypocrisy. Christian relationships, while quite enjoyable, can turn sour in a heartbeat. Someone may be our “friend” only under certain conditions. When trouble comes, once difficulty arises, they could not be more aloof and unsympathetic. That is the result of sin. In that day, you will learn the foundation of your friendships. Was it luxurious homes and vehicles, exotic trips, and enormous loans? Or, was it love, kindness, and respect?

To better understand today’s Scripture, we look at it in context—namely, Israel’s kingdom (prophetic) program. One stipulation of being a follower of Jesus Christ in the Jewish program is to “sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33). Unbelievers will retain their wealth, since they will align themselves with the Antichrist and his opulent political-religious system (Revelation 13:15-18; Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24). Israel’s Little Flock, the believing remnant, will experience today’s Scripture firsthand. They did back in the Acts period (20 centuries ago), and will experience it again (after our dispensation ends and their program resumes where it paused). Outcasts, destitute and oppressed, they “go forth therefore unto [Jesus] without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).

Like them, let us remember that no matter how many “friends” we lose, the Lord Jesus Christ is more than enough to be gained! 🙂

Is Evil “Make-Believe?”

Friday, November 23, 2018

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5 KJV).

Why does the world take a negative view toward the Bible? The Bible takes a negative view of the world!

A man once claimed that evil is “a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own…. You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse…. Badness exists, sure, but even that’s quite rare. By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind. No greater revelation has come from our journey than this.” He and his female partner were on a world bicycling tour. One day, terrorists drove over them with a vehicle and then stabbed them to death!

How sad, dear friends, that such naïve people exist. They believe “evil” is only pretend. We should never have such a high opinion of ourselves. The human race is such a pitiful species, the most wretched of creatures. That couple learned—to their demise—that evil is real, human nature is wicked, and the God of the Bible does not lie. Regardless of how much make-believe we embrace, the fact remains that we are evil beings living in an evil world. We are selfish through and through. God thus makes absolutely no effort to “reform” us; our only hope is for our Adamic nature to be put to death on Calvary’s cross, and us receiving a new nature in Christ! Our problem is not that we sometimes fail to do right; our problem is we can never do right.

Let us never allow even one day to pass without thanking the God of the Bible for His grace. We do not deserve His favor and His provisions. He bestows them on us freely, despite our sin, simply because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on Calvary. That is not “make-believe!” 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did the God of the Bible authorize genocide?

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2018

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

Your Right to Eat Meat

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

“For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4,5 KJV).

Before we advocate animal rights, let us understand that we have a God-given right to eat them!

An animal rights activist once appeared on television to complain about the consumption of turkeys on Thanksgiving. He argued that turkeys “feel pain” when they are slaughtered, and thus we should not eat them. His line of reasoning was, “If we would not eat our pet dog, then we should not eat turkey.” Such people, despite their sincerity, are ignorant of today’s Scripture.

Originally, all people and animals were herbivores; they only ate vegetation. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:29,30).

Then, sin entered, and God incorporated meat into the human diet: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:3,4).

When we ignore the fact that God gave us animals to eat, and we demand that others must also abstain from meat for religious (nature-worshipping) purposes, that is a “doctrine of devils” in this dispensation (1 Timothy 4:1-5). The creature should not be worshipped; only the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be worshipped (Romans 1:25). As long as we thank the Lord for whatever creatures we eat, consuming animal flesh is acceptable and godly. It does not sit well with the pantheists—who exalt nature as God—but it is approved of the living God, and that alone ultimately matters.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Why did King Saul die?