Think Positive! Think Pauline!

Friday, June 9, 2017

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8 KJV).

Think positive! Think Pauline!

Friend, you literally dread the phone calls from some people, do you not? This is especially troubling when those “people” are family members, right? After they have sat for hours and hours fuming about how wrongly somebody treated them, or some other bit of bad news, they call you up in order to spew forth their negativity. They wallow in self-pity and want you to join in with them. Your day was going so well until they called! Thereafter, every time they ring your phone, you cringe. Sometimes, you cannot even bring yourself to answering—you just let the phone ring, ring, ring. You cannot bear to hear one more pessimistic comment!

Beloved, there is so much garbage teaching in the world that people have almost no exposure to Bible truths. Thus, their thoughts are riddled with fallacies, expending all their time and effort on trivial, nonsensical things. They need to get into the Bible, read and believe the Gospel of Grace (Romans chapters 1-5), and get saved into Heaven! If they have already come to Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they need to study His Word rightly divided. Their minds should be constantly renewed by truth instead of being increasingly polluted by error. Oh, may they be delivered from foolishness!

Notice today’s Scripture: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” These are actually descriptions of the Holy Bible. Read the next verse now: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me [the Apostle Paul!], do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Think positive—think Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon!
🙂

The Heavenly Places #4

Monday, June 5, 2017

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

Parroting the misguided claims of so-called “Bible authorities,” critics complain about the King James’ italicized words. The phrase “heavenly places” is heavily derided because the original Greek does not have “places.” Thus, people refuse to quote the Authorized Version verbatim here—they prefer “heavenlies.” “Places” is needed to construct a complete English thought; therefore, our 1611 translators rightly inserted it. Upon removing “places,” we rob ourselves of an important link.

Revelation 12:7-9: “[7] And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, [8] And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Friend, did you notice “place” in verse 8? It means a “room, position, dwelling.” Satan and his fallen angels functioning in heaven today (today’s Scripture) will be tossed out onto the Earth halfway through the future seven-year Tribulation. (Recall the “Old Testament” references about God and Satan both working in the heavenly places, with God cleansing those regions of evil. The Revelation is the capstone.)

With the heavenly places vacated of evil beings, Father God installs us the Church the Body of Christ into those positions of power (refer to the “heavenly” references in Ephesians—1:3-12, 1:20-23, 2:6-7, 3:10-11). Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [Christ Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:… [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth [using Israel], or things in heaven [using us the Body of Christ].”

Now, we wrap it up….

Abram Did It Man’s Way

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:2 KJV).

Abram “hearkened to the voice of Sarai—the verse does not say, “the voice of God!”

We do not know how long Abram waited to see the promised seed God would give him. The Bible gives us an estimate of at least 25 years (Abram entered the land of Canaan around age 75, Genesis 12:4 says, and Genesis 21:5 claims he was 100 when Isaac was born). Some people speculate that it could have been as much as 50 years (since Genesis 12:1-3 was spoken sometime back in chapter 11—how long that was, the Bible is silent). We will stick by the Bible and say at least 25 years. Friend, imagine waiting 25 years for God to do something He promised you He would do on your behalf!

Beloved, Abram was just as human as we are. He held out for about 10 years, before finally listening to his wife Sarai and having a child with her handmaid Hagar (see today’s Scripture—yea, Genesis 16:1-16). This was not something God commanded but rather something Sarai devised. As it turned out, it was not the “God-taking-so-long-to-work” that resulted in a problem; it was man’s “quick fix” that ultimately proved to be so detrimental to Abram and his family. That child he fathered apart from God’s will (Ishmael) now has descendants (Arabs) who persecute the child God gave him through promise (Isaac) and the little nation Israel descended from Isaac and grandson Jacob. This problem, starting out as a silly woman’s bad idea, has plagued the Middle East for 4,000 years now!

If we can learn anything at all, friends, it is this. It is better to wait on faithful God for decades, Him bringing a result that will actually work and last eternally; than depend on our fellow man, as frail as we, to develop a “quick fix” that will disappoint forever! Rather than doing it man’s way, let us do it God’s way!

Answering a Matter

Saturday, May 27, 2017

“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13 KJV).

Behold, herein is wisdom for every persuasion!

Long ago, a wise and older Christian brother told me, “People cannot take a stand for anything because they do not know anything.” (Those words have never left me. They have become increasingly apparent in the years since I heard them.) The “people” were actually professing Christians. He was lamenting how he, in his 40 years of being a Christian, and nearly two decades of church leadership, had known some really pitifully ignorant church members. Lacking a sound foundation in the Scriptures, they could not distinguish truth from error. They would hear the “matters,” but it was “folly and shame unto [them]” because they would “answer” the matters by siding with the errors! Those outside of Christendom fare no better.

For example, I recently had an online encounter with a Bible scoffer. This individual did not compose one true statement about the Scriptures—it was merely false information. No legitimate arguments were leveled against the Bible. Nothing factual was offered. Rather, the ridiculer, parading as an “authority,” merely employed stereotypes and misconceptions (which, of course, I exposed as fallacious). Sadly, Christians, without any factual data themselves, are often guilty of answering the scoffers. The scoffer further mocks because the Christian knows too little about the skeptic’s position—no marvel because Christians are frequently uninformed concerning their own beliefs!

Friends, whether skeptics or Bible believers, we would do well to listen to others before we evaluate their claims. We Christians know today’s Scripture: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” Though you may dislike the Bible, you skeptics would agree with it here and you would do especially well to heed it on this point. The Bible says that those who rashly comment on something they have never heard or studied appear foolish and disgraceful. This is applicable to both scoffers (unversed in the Scriptures) answering Bible believers, and Bible believers (unskilled in the pertinent skepticism) answering scoffers.

No Light in Them

Friday, May 26, 2017

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19,20 KJV).

Why is there “no light in them?”

Circa 700 B.C., the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Isaiah cautioned Israel in today’s Scripture to be very careful who they let guide them in spiritual matters. After all, just like today, Satan had a counterfeit religious system with preachers and precepts. Israel was admonished to stay close to God’s revealed Word to them, particularly the Mosaic Law (the foundation of their God-given religion). The Law was their standard of truth; conflicting teachings were to be ignored. God told Israel that, if someone disagreed with “the law and the testimony,” that person had “no light in them.” That is, there was spiritual ignorance.

In Romans chapter 1, we see how God gave up the evil Gentile nations back in Genesis chapter 11: “[21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (cf. Ephesians 4:17-19). Sinful man experiences this spiritual darkness when he rejects the revelation from and of God. JEHOVAH God told Israel to avoid such people. Moreover, Jesus said of Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the common Jews: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

Sadly, such “blind leaders of the blind” have infiltrated and subverted most “Christian” schools and churches for the last 2,000 years. Hence, many preachers deliver “Bible lessons” that are nothing but spiritual nonsense—“warmed-over” philosophical speculations of men. Gullible Christians, not grounded in sound Bible doctrine, sit under such “instructors,” ultimately deviating from God’s truth themselves even further. Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry (1 Corinthians 2:1-16), they attempt to make sense of the Scriptures in their own minds, to no avail. “It is because there is no light in them!”

Shine as Lights #6

Sunday, May 21, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

“Holding forth the word of life….” As we reprove the works of darkness by preaching and living the truth (Ephesians 5:1–6:9), so we “hold forth the word of life” by preaching and living it. “Holding forth” means “identifying it, paying attention to it, seizing it, and extending it to others.” Notice related usages. Jesus “marked” how some guests chose prominent positions at the feast (Luke 14:7). The lame man “gave heed” to Peter and John, expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5). Paul decided to “stay” for a while in Asia while he sent Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia (Acts 19:22).

“The word of life,” of course, is the Holy Bible, especially rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth [gives life to and makes active]; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (verse 68). “Life” here is God’s life—how God lives—how Jesus Christ lives—how we Christians (should) live. God created physical life from nothing by using His spoken Word; He provides spiritual life similarly.

When we “hold forth the word of life,” we urge others to receive it (after all, eternal life through Christ is a gift offered—Romans 6:23). Again, we are not merely preaching the Gospel of Grace; we are living it. Titus 2:11,12,14 says: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;…. [14] [Christ Jesus] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us see the result….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?

Shine as Lights #5

Saturday, May 20, 2017

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14-16 KJV).

Shine as lights, brethren, shine as lights!

No matter our country, it is a “crooked and perverse nation.” Governed by Satan, “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is thus turned away from God and wholly corrupt. (That evil world system will remain until the Lord Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.) God has left us on this planet as “outposts of the third heaven.” Since we are from another world (“the kingdom of [God’s] dear Son”), we are to behave differently from this world controlled by “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13).

“…Among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In the midst of the unbelieving masses, we Christians live—nay, rather, we shine. As luminous celestial bodies contrast the deep, dark recesses of outer space, so we “stick out” in this lost and dying world. We are lighthouses, guiding souls away from danger and destruction. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, describing Israel’s believing remnant, excerpted: “[14] Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Ephesians chapter 5 adds: “[7] Be not ye therefore partakers with them [children of disobedience, verse 6]. [8] For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: [9] (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; ) [10] Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. [11] And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” We return to Philippians….