Joy to the World! #2

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

“Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:5-9 KJV).

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

“Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.”

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12), plunging creation into suffering. What God had intended to last forever was now languishing away and dying off! “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit…” (Romans 8:22,23).

We humans, pinnacles of God’s creatures, are so ungrateful to our Creator. Even in such a fallen state, our universe is amazingly complex and it is a miracle it even functions at all with its abounding impediments! Rather than praising our Creator for giving us life, we complain about our “problems” and then write books, display billboards, and give lectures about His “non-existence.” We mock His name, laugh at His Bible, stick out our tongues at Him, and wag our fingers in His face. Newsflash—God will not tolerate that forever!

In His own time, Almighty God will make all things right. That means getting rid of that which (and who) is wrong/evil. As 1 Timothy 6:14,15 say: “…the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” No matter what mankind does—cooperate with Him by faith, or protest by throwing a tantrum in unbelief—God has already determined what He is going to do. Jesus Christ, whether people like it or not, will be King over all creation!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #1

Saturday, December 8, 2018

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:8-10 KJV).

The first and second verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.’”

Due to the decree of some pagan Roman emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary traveled some 70 miles (113 kilometers), from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah (Luke 2:1-7)! There, in little Bethlehem—a humble town rather than a magnificent world city—Israel’s King, yea the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born. Micah 5:2, written some 700 years earlier, was perfectly fulfilled: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Note that our King James Bible says Jesus Christ is “from everlasting,” demonstrating His deity. Modern versions water this down, saying “from ancient times/days.” Blasphemy!)

Not far from where Jesus was born and laid in the manger, shepherds were out that night guarding their flocks. (See, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in wintertime. There is additional Scriptural evidence that it was early fall, very late September or very early October.) The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. Angels appearing to Israel was usually some sign of judgment (see 2 Samuel 24:15-17, for example). When the shepherds of today’s Scripture saw the angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were very fearful.

The angel reassured them with such wonderful news!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Friday, December 7, 2018

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJV).

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

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

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?

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?

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?

Stand It As Long As You Can! #2

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:25-27 KJV).

Is anger ever appropriate?

Before we came to Christ, we were spiritually darkened (verses 17-19). In the Gospel of Grace, in Jesus Christ, we were enlightened (verses 20,21). Verses 22-24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Now read today’s Scripture.

Having escaped Satan’s dominion, “delivered from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), does it make sense for us to return to it? No! Therefore, when we see our Adversary using lies to work in our lives, we should be angered. Anger is not sinful if caused by the right reasons (see Matthew 5:22 and Mark 3:5). “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Today’s Scripture continues, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” While commonly taken to mean, “Do not go to bed angry, settle the dispute before sunset,” the more probable admonition is, “Do not let your non-sinful anger dissipate.” Brethren, if we do not constantly respond negatively toward sin—especially lying (see context)—it will dominate us. May we not soften our opposition to sin, for Satan will gain the advantage.

Righteous anger should cause us to deny sin (see Galatians 5:19-26). “Sin is not who I am! I am a saint of the Most High God, not a sinner!” We are not making ourselves holy; we are simply being whom Father God has made us in Christ (Romans 12:1,2). Whenever religious tradition obscures or refutes that truth, we should be angry and separate from the tradition, lest Satan keep entry to us. However, only Christian believers mature in grace fully grasp that. Until then, they will keep “experimenting” with their denominations. My advice to them is always, “Stand it as long as you can!” (It is their choice to flee, and I never make the decision for them.)