Give Yourself to the Lord

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Corinthians 8:4,5 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is the key to giving under grace.

Giving to churches is justifiably a very sensitive matter. Especially when preachers demand $65-million personal jets! There is much abuse when it comes to religion and money. Ironically, when Jesus condemned “thieves,” He did not castigate publicans (tax collectors who amassed exorbitant amounts from the Jews to give the Roman government). Rather, Jesus entered the Temple—Israel’s religious center—and declared thieves had overrun His house. He drove these religious people from God’s house (Matthew 21:12,13; Luke 19:45,46; John 2:13-17). Paul confessed that, before salvation, he, a Pharisee,profited in the Jews’ religion above many [his] equals in [his] own nation” (Galatians 1:14).

We read today’s Scripture in context: “[1] Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; [2] How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. [3] For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; [4] Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. [5] And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”

When Paul collected from his converts various goods to assist the poor believing Jews in Jerusalem, the Macedonian Christians, though poor, wanted to give more and more (beyond their means). The believers in Macedonia (Thessalonica and Berea) were motivated by God’s grace. We first give ourselves to the Lord. Then, we give to sound grace Bible ministriesNOT out of fear of God’s curse (tithing), but out of thanksgiving for God’s blessings (giving under grace). Let us give “cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6,7)! 🙂

Truth Be Told

Monday, May 18, 2015

“But we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2 KJV).

If we have not done so already, may we abandon “handling the word of God deceitfully!”

A “faith healer” preacher, after sharing “healing testimonies” and offering to send prayer cloths and anointing oil by mail, read 2 Corinthians 4:16 on television: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” He actually admitted that our physical bodies are aging and decaying. Jokingly, he referenced his balding head and he and his wife’s wrinkling skin! (“Physician, heal thyself with thy ‘miracle-healing tools!’”) No wonder people laugh at us Christians. Just look at the foolishness “Christian” television networks air!

Recently, someone told me she had “paid for some Masses” for a certain deceased loved one to be freed from purgatory’s flames. Those prayers said on her behalf were not cheap, but they were certainly not enough to merit God’s heaven. (If Jesus’ blood did not bring someone to heaven, can silver and gold?)

Dear friends, the above is not Christianity but charlatanry. Remember, if someone is not making sense, ‘someone’ is making money! There are many sincere but vulnerable people, particularly in religion. These precious souls need to learn the difference between Christianity and charlatanry. Just because someone is reading a Bible, talking about “Jesus” and “God,” or claiming to be led by the “Holy Ghost,” that does not automatically make that individual a spokesperson for God (a common myth). Ministers are oftentimes the sneakiest people. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day for them draining people of their income and trust. There are billions around the world today equally deceived and abused.

Beloved, let us take our King James Bible, and let us be grounded in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, that we not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). As we learn to tell the truth, those who want to know it, will learn as well. 🙂

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder #4

Saturday, April 11, 2015

“To die is gain…. Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:21,23cd KJV).

The chorus of James Milton Black’s classic 1893 hymn “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” highlights today’s Scripture.

“When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

Religion’s “sin of presumption” forbids anyone from claiming or believing in assurance of immediately going to heaven upon physical death. Theologians argue, “No sinful person can enter heaven without first being cleansed.” Hence, a purgatorial state is speculated to exist: the “faithful” soul, post-death and pre-heaven, is allegedly tormented to atone for any un-paid sins (sounds like hellfire to me!). Dear friends, purgatory belittles—and ignores—the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Jesus paid for a Christian’s sins in full (Romans 4:1-8; Colossians 2:13), so why would the Christian have un-paid sins? Friends, religion never makes sense (frankly, purgatory does not make sense because it is a money-making gimmick).

Saint Paul undoubtedly knew where he was going upon death. He was not going to sleep in a grave, not going to “die like a dog and pass into non-existence,” and not going to suffer “purgatorial cleansing.” Paul affirmed, We are confident [fully assured!!!!], I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; cf. today’s Scripture). He had such confidence because Jesus Christ was reliable, faithful. Had Paul been relying on his works, he could not be confident. Yea, to rely on faulty works is sure to introduce doubt! Beloved, the payment for sin is Jesus Christ’s suffering at Calvary, not our temporary suffering in purgatory!

Brethren, whether the Lord happens to call our name in physical death, or calls our name while we are living at the time of the Rapture, up we will go to Heaven to meet our Saviour and be with Him forever. We will be there in Heaven because, at Calvary, He paid the “airfare!” Let us keep looking up for our flight! 🙂

But It is Scriptural!

Friday, February 6, 2015

“But [we] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully…” (2 Corinthians 4:2 KJV).

If only more religious leaders would join with Paul in today’s Scripture!

Recently, I watched a “Christian” television program in which the preacher cunningly said, “The Holy Ghost is telling me to instruct you to send us a $10 donation. We will mail you a vial of Israeli holy olive oil. Then, anoint the doorways of your house, your sick loved ones, and your business, and believe and receive God’s healing and wealth.” His wife then cleverly interjected to reassure their wary viewers, “It is Scriptural! James 5:13-15 says believers should call the church elders—that’s us!—and use anointing oil.”

Yes, if you want to be thoroughly confused, just watch TV preachers! This pastor and his wife, promising wealth and physical healing, were not practicing what they were preaching. The man was bald and wearing eyeglasses, and his wife had obviously had extensive cosmetic surgery. They were suffering the effects of old age—the “snake oil” they were peddling was not effective for them. They should use the oil themselves, receive God’s wealth, and then they would not have to beg for and extort donations from their television audience!

Dearly beloved, one of Christendom’s greatest blunders is to assume “Scriptural” equals “God’s will for me.” Suppose a Jew in Moses’ day claimed, “Moses, I hate following these kosher food laws that God had you write in Leviticus chapter 11. You wrote in Genesis 9:1-4 that I can eat anything I can catch. It is Scriptural to eat all animals! I will follow those instructions instead!” This Jew, although “Scriptural,” would be outside of God’s will for him. He would be ignorant of the dispensational change: Genesis chapter 9 was for Noah to follow, not Israel!

Let us not handle God’s Word deceitfully. Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s Word to us as Gentiles (Romans 11:13): our dispensation, set of divine instructions, is Paul’s epistles (Ephesians 3:2). We must be both Scriptural AND dispensational. Beloved, if you bear those simple verses in mind, you will spare yourself much confusion, extortion, headache, and heartbreak!

Instant Christians #7

Monday, January 12, 2015

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2 KJV).

In this day and age of “instant this and instant that,” we need more “instant” Christians!

Travelling out-of-state, I once had a very interesting conversation with an Evangelical seminarian-pastor who had a testimony of salvation in Christ. Meeting privately with this brother, I lovingly explained to him that the Greek New Testament he was preaching from was unreliable. Then, I showed him the error in his book, hoping he had an ear to hear and a heart to believe. Although I expected his reaction, I will never forget it. He blurted out to justify the error in his Bible, “We do not have what [Saint] Mark wrote anyway!”

Dear friends, he was no “cultic kook” but a “Bible-believing, Jesus-Christ-loving” preacher who would never, ever, ever even think of saying in his pulpit that today’s Bible is not—yes NOT—identical to the apostles’ Bible! (This heretical view of “textual criticism” drives the endless search for another manuscript reading “closer to the originals,” so another translation “more scholarly” [?] than its predecessors can be publi$hed.) Had this assembly and its deacons known their Bible, they would have asked this pastor the right questions before choosing him… to lead them “into the [doctrinal] ditch” (Matthew 15:14)! Friends, if most preachers spoke their true beliefs about Bible versions, they would agree with this wayward brother. Seminary has polluted them concerning manuscript evidence and Bible versions. Bible critics are the very people leading most “Christian” churches!

Had the Body of Christ studied, known, and appreciated/believed their 400-year-old King James Bible, they would have never purchased a century’s worth of 200 (pathetic, corrupt) modern English versions. They would have known that Satan questions God’s Word and robs mankind of its clarity at every opportunity (Genesis 3:1-5). Had the pastors educated their people in God’s English Bible, and warned them of counterfeits (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 1:18–2:3), Bible publishing companies would have gone bankrupt, no one buying their worthless modern-speech perversions predicated on equally-godless manuscripts. Very few want to hear such strong language, but it is true nonetheless (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

Oh, how we NEED “instant” Christians….

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

What Smart Kids!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:15,16 KJV).

The children of today’s Scripture knew more spiritual truth than most adults do today!

Some time ago, I heard a large assembly of elementary students at a private Christian school, let out such a gasp when a speaker talked about how some people in our nation did not want to utter the name Jesus Christ or dare speak about the Holy Bible. The thought of such wickedness had never seemed to cross these young, pliant minds. I could not help but conclude that these preteens had more respect for the Lord Jesus Christ than many adults!

When young children, perhaps as young as five or ten years old, saw Jesus riding on the donkey’s colt, entering Jerusalem, with less than a week to live, they praised Him. Earlier, they had heard the adults shouting, “Hosanna [Salvation] to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (verse 9). Now that He had cleansed the Temple of the thieves in religion, the children joined in the praising of Jesus Christ. This so irritated the chief priests and the scribes. Their hearts filled with rage, hatred, envy—“How dare He come here, stop our funding, and get the praise that we deserve!”

They then asked Jesus if He heard the children praising Him, and He replied in the affirmative. He then showed these religious leaders’ Bible ignorance, asking if they ever read Psalm 8:2. In that psalm, God explained how He would use man—a fragile creature made of mere dust—to glorify Himself in the earth. Jesus was saying that, by praising Him, these weakly children were doing what God designed man to do from the very beginning when He created Adam!