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!

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?

A Shipwreck That Could Have Been Avoided! #7

Sunday, November 18, 2018

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21 KJV).

Despite little doctrinal content in this chapter, the narrative contained therein illustrates the Church the Body of Christ operating in the Dispensation of Grace.

When we survey the professing “Church” today, as we examine the records of ecclesiastical history, we see figuratively what Paul and his sailing companions witnessed literally out in the Mediterranean Sea all those centuries ago. Furious storms—the Adversary, Satan, using false teaching from various angles to defy and obstruct God’s work—have battered and will continue to hammer us. The Body of Christ, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14), is en route to Heaven and must endure a mammoth hurricane of lies. God is not at fault; He has given us all the doctrine, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to survive. We disregard His Word through the Apostle Paul at our spiritual peril—and never, ever, EVER forget it!!

Although “shipwreck” is an apt representation of the Church the Body of Christ corporately, it does not have to be true of our individual Christian lives. We can choose to, “Study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God, [workmen] that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Brethren, Satan cannot gain the advantage over us unless we let him. We must not ignore our identity in Christ, and we must listen to the Lord’s heavenly ministry through Paul.

Friends, read all of Acts chapter 27, all the while considering the material we have just covered. Notice how the sailors snubbed Paul’s counsel from the outset, and met a terrible outcome. “Learning the hard way,” they were extensively devastated and despondent that Pauline guidance was truly their last hope. That same information could have prevented the ruin in the first place. The same is true of us. All hope is not lost. God’s Word rightly divided is as powerful as ever, and if only we believe it, it will thus “effectually work in us” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). 🙂

A Shipwreck That Could Have Been Avoided! #6

Saturday, November 17, 2018

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21 KJV).

Despite little doctrinal content in this chapter, the narrative contained therein illustrates the Church the Body of Christ operating in the Dispensation of Grace.

Bearing Acts chapter 27 in mind, we now notice a striking parallel outlined in 1 Timothy chapter 1: “[18] This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; [19] Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: [20] Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

The above (figurative) “shipwreck” of an individual Christian’s life can be, has been, and will be true of the Church the Body of Christ as a whole. Faith—trusting God’s Word rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15)—has been willfully rejected. Consequently, spiritual disaster is ahead. Once God’s Word through the Apostle Paul is rebuffed, the Christian life will be devastated. Salvation unto eternal life will not be lost, but victory and clarity will vanish. Two men in the A.D. first century leading that apostasy are named—Hymenaeus and Alexander. Their non-grace, non-Pauline teaching ministry is called “blasphemy” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:14-18).

Chapter 4 of 1 Timothy: “[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; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:…. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine…. [16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

We can avoid the shipwreck….

A Shipwreck That Could Have Been Avoided! #5

Friday, November 16, 2018

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21 KJV).

Despite little doctrinal content in this chapter, the narrative contained therein illustrates the Church the Body of Christ operating in the Dispensation of Grace.

We (finally) finish the chapter: “[39] And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. [40] And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised [hoisted] up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. [41] And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. 

“[42] And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. [43] But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: [44] And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.”

Back during the storm, Paul had declared by God’s Word that they would “be cast upon a certain island” (verse 26). They have at least reached that land, safe and sound, though the fierce waves have smashed their ship to pieces. Chapter 28 begins, “And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita.” This is modern Malta, a tiny island south of present Sicily (southwest of Italy). All 276 souls on board survive unharmed, just as the Lord predicted through Paul (Acts 27:22-26,31-37). Not one member of the Church the Body of Christ will be lost. However, as the ship was destroyed, so the organization overall will be a failure for ignoring the Apostle Paul in the first place….

A Shipwreck That Could Have Been Avoided! #4

Thursday, November 15, 2018

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21 KJV).

Despite little doctrinal content in this chapter, the narrative contained therein illustrates the Church the Body of Christ operating in the Dispensation of Grace.

Imagine the black, squally seascape Paul and his mates are experiencing in the Mediterranean. Now, their final day: “[27] But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria [Adriatic Sea, southeast of Italy, near center of Mediterranean Sea], about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; [28] And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. [29] Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.

“[30] And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, [31] Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. [32] Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. [33] And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 

“[34] Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. [35] And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. [36] Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. [37] And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. [38] And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea.”

Freighter ship damaged, all cargo cast off, yet not one soul with Paul perished….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘under colour’ mean in Acts 27:30?

A Shipwreck That Could Have Been Avoided! #3

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss” (Acts 27:21 KJV).

Despite little doctrinal content in this chapter, the narrative contained therein illustrates the Church the Body of Christ operating in the Dispensation of Grace.

The winds of the Mediterranean Sea oppose the ship carrying Paul and his companions. False teaching rocks the Body of Christ, that it be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). A deceptive wind follows: “And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete” (Acts 27:13). Blowing “softly,” the wind leads them to believe their troubles are past. Yet, verse 14: “But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.” A stormy east wind roars!

“[18] And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; [19] And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. [20] And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. [21] But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. [22] And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. [23] For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, [24] Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. [25] Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. [26] Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.”

Listening to Paul, they will survive the storm….