Persuading and Pleasing God #3

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 KJV).

What does today’s Scripture reveal about the Apostle Paul’s past?

As Saul of Tarsus, Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 26:5; Philippians 3:5,6), diligently serving men in “the Jews’ religion” (Galatians 1:13,14). The Mosaic Law (rabbinical) scholar that he was (Acts 22:3), no one was more dedicated to striving in works-religion than he. However, on the road to Damascus, Acts chapter 9, he met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven. Pious Saul suddenly realized he was headed for Hell! He came to believe the new gospel message that the Lord revealed to him—Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day. Thereafter, Saul would no longer please men. In fact, at his conversion, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

In contrast to his earlier life, Paul was now a servant of God. Galatians 1:11-12, the verses immediately following today’s Scripture, affirms: “[11] But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. [12] For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Rather than being faithful to a God-originated religious system that man had watered down over the centuries, Paul was now faithful to the commission God had given directly to him. He was truly now a God-pleaser instead of a man-pleaser (today’s Scripture).

The Lord Jesus Christ had revealed Himself to Saul outside of Damascus. In doing so, He revealed to Paul the Gospel of Grace—the first installment of the Dispensation of Grace. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to write to the churches at Galatia, that they learn his distinctive apostleship and message, to the end that they would learn not to be men-pleasers either. Brethren, let us learn the lesson: the answer to successful Christian living is grace, not law—Christ, not religion! It is not what we do; it is all that Jesus Christ did for us at Calvary’s cross! This persuades and pleases Father God! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should a woman lead a group in prayer?

Be Not Foolish!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1 KJV).

On this “April Fools’ Day,” we remember not to be foolish concerning works-religion!

A friend was recently swindled. His outdated computer printer needed ink, so he purchased the “hard-to-find” cartridges from some questionable online company. After weeks of not receiving his package, he phoned the company. The representative, after claiming they had no record of his payment, hung up the phone. My friend called the company again. The other associate was friendly, and promised to investigate the matter.

Days later, my friend received a package by mail—his long-awaited ink cartridges. However, within a week, he discovered the ink’s inferior quality. It began fading on the page! (He contacted the company yet again, and is still awaiting a supposed “refund.”) My friend is certainly intelligent, but he behaved most foolishly. He should have been more careful and done research before giving his hard-earned money over to just anybody—especially since he had been deceived and cheated years earlier when ordering from another online ink company!

Similarly, the Galatians were “foolish” (today’s Scripture). Not that they were stupid, but rather they were not using the intelligence that God had given them. They were not exercising their spiritual minds. When Paul had visited and taught them, the Holy Spirit had furnished these saints in Galatia with spiritual insight. Not only had they been introduced to Jesus Christ via the Gospel of Grace, they had also been instructed concerning sound doctrine. Alas, they had become “bewitched.” Someone had used the Mosaic Law to “cast a spell on them.” The legalistic message these teachers were promoting appealed to the Galatians. Even today, scams and gimmicks appear good in some way in order to be passed off as genuine.

Friend, in the spiritual/religious world, we had better be careful what systems and organizations with which we get involved. Not all preachers serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Not all “Christian” churches are truly Christian. Not all “Bibles” are actually Holy Bibles. Our standard for gauging truth and error is the King James Bible rightly divided. Without it, we too will be “foolish” and “bewitched!”

Resolute to Speak in Christ!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:17 KJV).

Despite all the corrupters, we will keep God’s Word pure!

I periodically receive emails from discouraged grace believers, people “beaten up” by denominationalists. Whether in-person or on social media, they have encountered much opposition. (I know!) Individuals constantly attack the King James Bible as “faulty” and “a mere translation.” Jesus Christ’s crosswork means nothing to them because their religious works mean everything to them. There is much anti-grace rhetoric (legalism). Individuals viciously ridicule the Apostle Paul. Dispensational Bible study is questioned and denigrated as “nutty” and “cultic.”

This should neither surprise nor discourage us. Whether today, or throughout Bible history, very few follow Father God. Never forget, my dear brethren, Noah preached for 120 years, and all he converted was seven precious souls (2 Peter 2:5)! Untold millions mocked and refused to hear him, thus perishing in the Great Deluge. Pride kept them from entering that Ark, eternally damning them. Even today, pride keeps billions of lost people from being saved by trusting Christ as personal Saviour (1 Timothy 2:4). Moreover, pride prevents millions of Christians from “coming to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Some 2,000 years ago, people were “wresting” (perverting) the Scriptures—especially Paul’s epistles—to their spiritual destruction (2 Peter 3:15,16). When we learn of so many people today vilifying Jesus Christ, the King James Bible, Paul, and dispensational Bible study, we recall today’s Scripture: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

A disheartened grace believer recently wrote to me concerning the hostility: “After it’s done beating me up a bit I tend to try to redouble my resolve to know the word of grace.” In other words, the opposition motivates him to endeavor to learn about God’s grace even more! (It took me years to gain that same attitude, but I agree 1000 percent!!) The more they question God’s truth; the more we reinforce it in our minds, over and over and over again. Daily, constantly, eternally! 🙂

Given Versus Came #6

Monday, February 27, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this devotionals arc by reading the context: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the King James Bible mean—‘reins?’

Given Versus Came #5

Sunday, February 26, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Notice Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” When Jesus Christ came to Earth, specifically to Israel, He was their greatest sign. The JEHOVAH God who had dealt so frighteningly with Moses on Sinai when delivering the Law, had now revealed Himself by taking on a human body! Jesus, living among other Jews, was indeed “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” JEHOVAH God came to His own people, Israel, but they rejected Him. Moreover, they conspired with the Gentiles to kill Him (Psalm 2:1-3; Acts 4:23-28). Still, it was in God’s design to use man’s free will to accomplish His end. With man crucifying Christ, there would be shed blood, allowing the implementation of a new covenant for Israel. Please see Hebrews 8:8-13: “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah….” “For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins(Romans 11:27—verse 26 identifies this as Christ’s Second Coming, yet future from our day).

Israel accumulated much wrath under the Old Covenant, but grace would cover it. Jeremiah 31:2 speaks of Israel’s redemption and restoration: “The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” Zechariah 12:10 describes this Second Coming: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications….” As does Acts 3:19,20: “[Israel] Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ….”

With Jesus Christ coming once to Israel to shed His blood, He will return to ratify the covenant that typifies for them “grace and truth….”

Given Versus Came #4

Saturday, February 25, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Today’s Scripture highlights how the Law was dispensed from a distance. God did not speak directly to Israel on Mount Sinai when He issued and defined the Law. No, He instructed Moses to come up and meet with Him. Moses then descended and delivered the Law to the Israelites. The Jews were kept at a distance. We have neither time nor space to detail that with quotations, but you can refer to Exodus chapters 19-32.

In opening his Gospel Record of Christ’s earthly ministry, John the Apostle moved from the Law—a distant, cold, strict system—to something called “grace and truth.” Notice the contrasting conjunction “but:” “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit is actually highlighting the advantageous and new system that God will institute in Israel one day. To wit, today’s Scripture is really demarcating two covenants—the “Old Covenant” (Law of Moses) and the “New Covenant” (Law of Messiah).

We remind ourselves of the Mosaic Law’s true purpose, Romans 3:19,20: “[19] Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Jews and Gentiles] may become guilty before God. [20] Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Old Covenant was never meant to be permanent: it was to serve one purpose. It was to show the whole world—every Jew, every Gentile—that they were sinners. There would be no argument or doubt, as God made it very clear. Religion and man’s efforts are not the answer! Grace and God’s efforts are the answer!

The Law was “given” by Moses, yes. But, grace and truth “came” by Jesus Christ. Unlike with the Old Covenant, God did not send something to Israel from afar. No, with the New Covenant, God came to Israel literally, physically, visibly, and personally….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did Jesus ‘empty’ Himself?

Given Versus Came #3

Friday, February 24, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

Hebrews chapter 12 summarizes the drastic change in how God dealt the Israelites when they rejected His grace and preferred a performance-based acceptance system: “[18] … the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, … blackness, and darkness, and tempest, [19] And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: [20] (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: [21] And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: )….”

With the institution of the Mosaic Law (delineated in Exodus chapter 20), JEHOVAH God became distant and severe. If there was so much as an animal that touched Mount Sinai, God demanded it be killed! A man was to be put to death if he touched Sinai! Israel, up to this point, had not been fearful of God. They had seen God deal harshly with Egypt, but not with them. Now, they literally tremble as the Old Covenant is ratified!

Friend, the Law is not the sinner’s friend. No, the Law is not flawed: God’s Law is “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12). However, it is “weak through [our] flesh” (Romans 8:3). The Law “worketh wrath” (Romans 4:15). We cannot measure up to God’s righteous standards. Not only are our deeds evil; we, by nature, in heart, are evil (Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 7:11). The Law exposes our sinful nature and deeds: “For by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “The strength of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56b). The Law only highlights our failures. It was intended to teach Israel they could not be God’s people based on their efforts!

As long as they had a performance-based acceptance system, their religious works being the issue, God would always be distant, displeased, offended, and angry. They would need JEHOVAH God to institute a more advantageous, and personal, system….