No Good Deeds, No Good Things #2

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you (Jeremiah 5:25 KJV).

Here is the result of being under any performance-based acceptance system!

The “Abrahamic Covenant” appears in Genesis chapter 12: “[1] Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: [2] And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: [3] And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” These are God’s promises to Abram rather than Abram’s promises to God. God will work on Abram’s behalf to produce a nation. Abram is to separate from his pagan family—idolaters (Joshua 24:2)—so he can be set apart for God’s purposes. He believed the LORD God, and he relocated as instructed.

Abram is 75 years old (Genesis 12:4); Sarai his wife is 10 years younger. God has pledged to use them to build a great nation, yet they are elderly and childless! In chapter 16, Abram is now in his mid-eighties… and disheartened to still be without a son. Well-meaning Sarai develops a plan to “help” God. She gives Abram her handmaid, Hagar, to use as a surrogate mother. Through Sarai’s plan and Abram’s efforts, Ishmael is born.

Over a decade later, Abram is 99 years old (Genesis 17:1). God changes his name to “Abraham” and his wife’s name to “Sarah,” and then He remarks: “Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him” (verse 19). God performs a miracle. Isaac is born in chapter 21, when Abraham is 100 (and sterile!). By the way, the Ishmael–Isaac struggle continues even today as the 4,000-year Arab/Muslim–Jewish war!

God rejected Abraham’s struggles (Ishmael); He accepted only His work (Isaac). If man will receive God’s blessings, it will be God’s efforts and not (!) man’s….

No Good Deeds, No Good Things #1

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you (Jeremiah 5:25 KJV).

Here is the result of being under any performance-based acceptance system!

The Apostle Paul had been a rabbinical scholar—a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5; cf. Acts 26:5), an “uncompromising Judaistic fundamentalist.” He was certainly no ignoramus when it came to the precepts of the Mosaic Law. After all, he trained under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a rabbi whom orthodox Jews know and revere even today!

When writing to young Pastor Timothy, Paul penned in 1 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: [6] From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; [7] Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

“[8] But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; [9] Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, [10] For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; [11] According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”

Verse 3 shows us that, in Ephesus, some legalists are causing spiritual turmoil by teaching doctrine contrary to Pauline revelation. The Holy Spirit exposes their error in verse 7: “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” Considering Paul’s background, he could rightly evaluate what was and was not the purpose of the Mosaic Law. Scripture can indeed be twisted to teach error….

See the King in His Beauty

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off (Isaiah 33:17 KJV).

Jesus Christ quoted today’s Scripture in Matthew 5:8 when He said “the pure in heart… shall see God.” In the Millennium, they will come to see Him, the King of Israel—Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; cf. Zechariah 8:23).

The public goes to great lengths to meet a celebrity (actor, politician, writer, filmmaker, musician, religious leader, et cetera)—expensive trips and long wait times mean nothing. They want to snap “selfies” with that person, get his or her autograph, and/or shake hands. Screaming with delight, they blow kisses, joyfully leap, sometimes falling to the ground. Acts 10:26 paraphrased: “Stand up! They are just people!”

However, when Israel’s Messiah-King was born in little Bethlehem of Judah, no massive crowds came. The masses were “too busy” with their lives to “bother” seeing God in the flesh. Visitors were lowly shepherds whom angels had notified out in the countryside (Luke 2:7-20). Israel had “no room” for Baby Jesus in the inn, so they offered Him a stable. He was an outcast even in the virgin Mary’s womb! His own people (Israel) wanted nothing to do with Him. Nonetheless, within two years of His birth, Gentiles from the east (wise men) came to see and worship Him (Matthew 2:1,2). Verse 3: “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” The nations want God’s fellowship but Israel is not willing to be the channel of blessing. Horrible!!

Today is no different. Rather than the masses flocking to grace churches to commune with God’s people and learn the truths of His Word rightly divided, they gravitate to “places of worship” where they hear feel-good catchphrases, motivational speeches, and entertaining music concerts. Whether they know it or not, they have no time for the one true God. Satan, the god of this world, has distracted them. God is not mocked. Their spurning of Him is not going unnoticed! How urgent it is that they come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ alone, and embrace His pure Word to them, lest they see the King in His wrath!

Perfecting #7

Sunday, June 24, 2018

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11,12 KJV).

What does “perfecting” mean here?

Dear friends, it is utterly impossible to become sinless in this life. Still, we can indeed be “perfected.” Whatever doctrine is lacking in our inner man, we can gain it by reading and believing God’s Word to us (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16,17). Are we going to daily read, daily study, and daily trust that Word—or just continue to claim ignorance?

If we do not have the assurance of salvation and a home in Heaven, we should without delay believe the Gospel of the Grace of God: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Faith in this Gospel is how God can forgive us of all our sins and make us right before Him. If we are saved unto eternal life, members of the Church the Body of Christ, then we need to study and believe the Scriptures rightly divided on a daily basis. Otherwise, we will not think and behave like God would intend Christians to reason and walk!

The Holy Bible, the completed canon, is meant to bring all Christians to spiritual maturity, an increasingly fuller understanding of all that Father God aims to do right now and on into the endless ages to come. Such believers can then oppose Satan’s lie program. It is therefore no surprise that Satan employs various schemes to tamper with and hinder that pure Word from spreading—counterfeit Bible manuscripts, false teachings (including non-dispensational Bible study, philosophy, and religious tradition), assorted “experiences” and emotional highs, and numerous other diversions.

If any of us in Christ today find ourselves unskilled and confused regarding the Scripture, it is not God’s fault but our own! Perhaps our preacher is culpable, maybe our denomination is also guilty of misleading, but God the Holy Spirit has done everything to spiritually enlighten us. Alas, 1 Corinthians 14:38 is spoken to many of us in Christ: “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” Brethren, may that not be true of us! 🙂

The Greater Condemnation #5

Saturday, June 16, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

“For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. None of us are perfect, but we had better get our doctrine straight before we become Bible teachers. Compared to all other things in nature, sinful man’s tongue is the most unmanageable (see verses 3-12). Only a “perfect” (spiritually mature) man can control his tongue. If he can govern the most intractable member, he can manage the rest of his body. Such a Christian (or teacher) is rare; therefore, we should not impetuously appoint the first “teacher” who desires the office!

Paul advised the Ephesian church elders in Acts chapter 20: “[28] Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. [29] For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Notice the “speaking” evil doctrine!!) First John 4:1 says, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” Moreover, 1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;….” (The “spirits” here are the voices of false teachers!)

As a final addendum, Acts 13:14-15 says the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia allowed complete strangers to teach their congregation! (They heard from Paul sound doctrine, but just imagine if he were a false teacher!) Would you want visitors taking over your assembly, people whose doctrine you have not thoroughly examined?! “Be not many masters!”

The Greater Condemnation #4

Friday, June 15, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

God will hold church leaders—“masters” (today’s Scripture) or teachers (John 3:10)—to a much higher standard than He will church members. Do they believe the right doctrine? Are they practicing what they preach and teach? Christ said to Israel’s religious leaders in Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” Unsaved false teachers will have a hotter place in Hell than those whom they misled!

In time past, Israel had God’s Word and the Gentiles did not (Romans 3:1,2). Compared to Gentiles, Jews were the teachers. Yet, the Israelites were hypocrites—they committed the same sins they had condemned the “wicked” Gentiles for doing! In Romans chapter 2, God holds the Jews as the more responsible party. Gentiles were without God’s revelation; Israel knew God’s Word and still committed those atrocious deeds (see verses 1-3,12,17-27). They would all endure God’s wrath!

While we members of the Church the Body of Christ never have to fear seeing God’s angry face or winding up in Hell, we should know that God Himself will review our Christian service. Jesus Christ will examine our soul, to determine the quality of doctrine we built into it (see 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9,10). Was it “gold, silver, precious stones”—valuable, spiritual information, His Word rightly divided? Or “wood, hay, stubble”—useless doctrine, human wisdom, religious tradition? Paul warned the Corinthian saints that they were allowing false religious leaders to contaminate them with doctrinal error, which would cause them loss of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3).

Dear friends, we had better be cautious of whom we allow to become our Bible teacher. Furthermore, we had better not rush into becoming Bible teachers ourselves. Bible teaching is a most serious job….

Two Rocks #8

Sunday, June 10, 2018

For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges (Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV).

There are two rocks in Scripture—one good and one bad. Friend, which is your foundation?

Hebrews chapter 3 reveals that God sees Israel as two houses overall: “[1] Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; [2] Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. [3] For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. [4] For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. [5] And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; [6] But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

One house is historical: Israel under the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law, a “weak and beggarly” system (Galatians 4:9) because Israel was a nation of sinners always falling short of God’s righteous standards (Hebrews 8:7-13). She repeatedly engaged in idolatry (“rocks”). The other house is prophetic: Israel under the New Covenant, God making her His people by Christ’s finished crosswork (1 Peter 2:3-10; cf. 1 Peter 1:2-5,13-25). She will never again be idolatrous.

Isaiah 51:5 anticipates new Israel, what Hebrews 3:6 calls “the house of Christ:” “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD [the Rock!]: look unto the rock [!] whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” God generated Israel’s bloodline with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s 12 sons. He delivered them from Egypt to become the nation Israel. They are to see Him as He really is (the Rock that their ancient ancestors refused to build on because their counterfeit “rocks,” or idols, had distracted them). Jesus Christ said Israel had better build on the right foundation (Him, the Rock, and His words), or experience spiritual destruction (Matthew 7:24-27)!