A Radical Change

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10 KJV).

Genuine faith in Christ should produce good works!

Not long ago, a new Christian—just a few years old in the Lord—told me how people who knew him as a lost man can certainly see a difference in his lifestyle now. He did not elaborate on his former sins, and it was none of my business anyway, but even he sees the simple truth of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

The Thessalonians of today’s Scripture were once pagan idolaters; however, Paul visited them in Acts chapter 17, preached the Gospel of Grace to them, and they passed from death to life. Such new life in Christ was to produce fruit. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;….” Interpreting this verse in light of today’s Scripture, we can recognize “work of faith” corresponds to “ye turned to God from idols,” “labour of love” is “serve the living and true God,” and “patience of hope” matches “wait for his Son from heaven.” Here are saints walking in their identity in Christ (Romans chapters 6-8), a rare occurrence in both the Bible and today.

Alas, then we encounter the Corinthians in the Bible record. Even a casual reading of Paul’s two epistles to Corinth leaves us with the impression these “Christians” are still unsaved and dead in trespasses and sins! No, as difficult as it seems, they are alive in Christ, possessors of eternal life: unfortunately, they have largely continued to live just like they were before they came to faith in Christ. Such an awful state of affairs besets the professing Body of Christ even now. We would do well to follow the “ensample” of the Thessalonians!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If meat-eating occurred only after the Flood, who was eating the animal sacrifices prior?

Confession Confusion #7

Sunday, June 27, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

Contrary to popular belief, 1 John 1:9 is not written to any believers—Messianic Jews (Israel’s Little Flock) or the Church the Body of Christ. It is a Gospel invitation to unsaved Israelites in the prophetic program. Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), never once taught in Romans through Philemon daily confession of sins was victorious Christian living. Whether Roman Catholic auricular confession to a priest, or Protestant confession directly to God, it is legalism (bastardized Judaism!) and not Christianity!

Through confession of sins, lost Israel expressed her understanding of the Law’s purpose: “We cannot be God’s people through our own efforts. Having been persistently idolatrous, we confess our violation of the righteous standards of the Law!” Once Israel sees that, she is delivered from all five courses of judgment (redeemed from the Old Covenant), Jesus Christ returns to ratify the New Covenant, and He founds God’s earthly kingdom promised to their father Abraham!

Brethren, we must “rightly divide the word of truth” concerning this and all other doctrines (2 Timothy 2:15). It is ever so important to distinguish between Law and Grace, Israel and the Body of Christ, prophecy and mystery, Earth and Heaven. Our relationship with God depends entirely on Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary. Either He took care of our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:14; Colossians 2:13; Colossians 3:13), or not! Having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God will not “impute” any trespasses unto us (Romans 4:6-8).

Christ’s shed blood cleanses us from all sin… all unrighteousness” only once, whether believing Israel or the Body of Christ (1 John 1:7,9). We have permanent, total, perpetual fellowship with God—regardless of our performance. Confession of sins merely repeats what Calvary already took care of! We have already declared our guilt and admitted our sin problem by trusting the fact Jesus died for our sins, so it makes no sense to keep bringing up the past. Christ paid for all our sins at Calvary; leave them there and mature in grace, brethren (Titus 2:11-15)! 🙂

Confession Confusion #6

Saturday, June 26, 2021

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 KJV).

Lo, the chief proof-text of the “short-account system!” (And how to look at it afresh, without [!] denominational eyeglasses!)

By the time of John the Baptist’s ministry and Christ’s earthly ministry, national Israel is still apostate (refusing God’s Word) but a believing remnant (the Little Flock) is confessing their sins and their forefathers’ sins. Recall Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5. Ever since Moses 16 centuries prior, Israel has failed to “do” “all that the LORD hath spoken” (Exodus 19:1-8). The Jews have been habitually idolatrous, violating their agreement with JEHOVAH God at Sinai. Experiencing the fifth course of judgment or chastisement (Leviticus 26:40-46), they must confess their sins so as to be delivered into God’s earthly kingdom and enjoy the Abrahamic Covenant! Yet, as previously noted, religious Israelites refuse to learn the lesson of the Law of Moses (see their sin problem). Regarding all other Jews “sinners,” they believe they have no sins to confess and thus refuse John’s water baptism (Matthew 3:7-9; Luke 3:7,8; Luke 7:29,30; cf. Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17; Luke 5:29-32).

Today’s Scripture addresses these Jews who suppose themselves to be sinless, “good enough” in their works-religion: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:7-10). First John 1:9 is written to unbelievers in Israel! Now, look at 1 John 2:12: “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Here is Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock.

Having now established the context of 1 John 1:9, let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Proverbial Prophecy #5

Friday, June 18, 2021

“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:1-4 KJV).

Friend, did you know the Book of Proverbs is really a book of prophecy?

Circa 970 B.C., the Holy Spirit moved Solomon to write Proverbs: “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men… and his fame was in all nations round about. And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five…. And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:29-32,34).

Unfortunately, decades later, Solomon abandoned God’s wisdom and followed Satan’s wisdom. This present evil world system led him to apostasy (pagan idolatry): “But king Solomon loved many strange [foreign/Gentile/heathen] women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites: Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love…. Then did Solomon build an high place [shrine] for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods (1 Kings 11:1,2,7,8).

Dying and disappointed, Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes. Like the Antichrist’s followers yet future, Solomon replaced the one true God with idols—philosophy, wealth, romance, entertainment, et cetera. As Christ said in Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:47-49, Israel can be the wise man (Proverbs) or the foolish man (Ecclesiastes). Likewise, in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, we can be the wise man (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon) or the foolish man (non-Pauline).

Diminish Not a Word! #4

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Jeremiah could have altered God’s Word to make it more palatable. Like the feel-good “Christian” celebrities who mislead multimillions to make multimillions today, he could have preached: “I do not make mention of ‘sin’ in my sermons, for such a word only instills pessimism. We need to think positive thoughts. The LORD is so pleased with Jerusalem and King Jehoiakim. No Divine wrath or Gentile army is coming here to destroy us!” (In fact, false prophets were proclaiming this in Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11, and 23:16-40.)

Had Jeremiah joined the false prophets in their “ear-tickling” messages, he would have surely avoided persecution—particularly his torture and name-calling. Howbeit, him changing the message would ultimately not help his audience. It would only make repentance that much harder. A polluted message would not bring about the change in mind JEHOVAH God wanted, whereas a pure message would cause them to come back to God and avoid the wrath against their idolatry. Whatever Jeremiah said, God would not overlook their sin. Therefore, it was far better for Jeremiah to tell them what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear!

Brethren, when we refuse to speak the words “Hell,” “wrath,” “eternal judgment,” and “sin;” indeed, we have gained the lost world’s friendship. However, we have not changed their impending doom at all! Whether we tell them of their sin problem or not, they still have it, and if they die without Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, they will absolutely not get into Heaven! We may opt out in sharing sound Bible doctrine with fellow Christians, so as to have the praise of these people as well. Yet, we have only played the hypocrite again—and deprived them of what would brought them to spiritual maturity and stability. Again, tell them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Diminish Not a Word! #3

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Return to the context of today’s Scripture: “[8] Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. [9] Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. [10] When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the LORD, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD’S house. [11] Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

“[12] Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. [13] Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. [14] As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. [15] But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.”

Read the rest of the chapter. Whereas Judah’s apostate religious leaders despised Jeremiah and God’s undiluted words, the common Jews appreciated them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are we God’s ‘workmanship?’

Diminish Not a Word! #2

Friday, May 28, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

Knowing man’s sinfulness, God advised Jeremiah: “diminish not a word.” Jeremiah was just as human as we are, so he was tempted to make God’s words more attractive to pagan idolaters. When Jeremiah entered his ministry, the LORD had warned him his people would “fight against” him (1:19). Behold the conflict!

Read chapter 20: “[1] Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. [2] Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. [3] And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur [“liberation”], but Magormissabib [“terror on every side”].” Jeremiah delivered God’s words in chapter 19, and subsequently suffered physical abuse. He was beaten and then placed in the “stocks” (hands and feet held between hinged wooden boards, for everyone to see and ridicule).

Verses 7-9: “O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Discouraged, tired of the ridicule, Jeremiah refused to preach. Yet, God’s words seethed in his inner man and he started talking again!

Now we get to today’s Scripture, where Jeremiah’s people oppose God’s words once more….

Diminish Not a Word! #1

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD’S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD’S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: (Jeremiah 26:2 KJV).

No matter how offensive they are, we never water down God’s words for anyone!

It is human nature for anyone to “tone down” the Scriptures, to re-translate and/or re-interpret them so they are more pleasing to sinful eyes and ears. We would expect unsaved people to treat God’s Word with such utter disregard and disrespect. However, we Christians can be guilty of this practice too. Bible translators, preachers, and teachers especially need to exercise great caution not to fall into this trap. Fearing negative reactions, we tend to avoid or obscure “inconvenient” Bible truths. In doing so, we appeal to our lost and/or denominational relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

Circa 600 B.C., the LORD God commissioned the Prophet Jeremiah to preach chapter 26 during the start of King Jehoiakim’s reign. Jehoiakim, one of Judah’s final monarchs, was a pagan idolater and poor spiritual example for his wicked nation in Jerusalem. God’s intention in giving Jeremiah’s message was, “If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings” (verse 3). This message will be anything but “feel-good!”

“[4] And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, [5] To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; [6] Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. [7] So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD.”

Jeremiah faithfully preached every word God gave him. Let us see how Jerusalem’s religious leaders respond to his sermon….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Daniel 7:12?

Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant #7

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

“…[T]he ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

What can we learn from the Ark of the Covenant?

About 500 years after Moses, the Jerusalem Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Second Chronicles chapter 5: “[6] Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel that were assembled unto him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude. [7] And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: [8] For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. [9] And they drew out the staves of the ark, that the ends of the staves were seen from the ark before the oracle; but they were not seen without. And there it is unto this day. [10] There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.

What happened to the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded? Scripture is silent. Regardless, by Solomon’s time, only the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments remained. When the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple 380 years later, the Ark of the Covenant was not among the treasures pillaged. It disappeared, but that does not matter. God Himself will institute a new covenant, replacing that old religious system, erasing Israel’s sins through Calvary, and dwelling with them forever in the Person of Jesus Christ (Millennial Kingdom onward).

“And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more” (Jeremiah 3:16). Israel has finally learned the lessons from the Ark of the Covenant! (Have we?)

Lessons from the Ark of the Covenant #6

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

“…[T]he ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:4 KJV).

What can we learn from the Ark of the Covenant?

The LORD God had Israel save (in chronological order): the golden pot of manna, the stone tables or tablets of the Ten Commandments, and Aaron’s rod that budded. By having them stored in the Ark of the Covenant for safekeeping, JEHOVAH God used them as teaching aids: despite Israel’s sin and rebellion, He would be faithful in keeping His promises to them!

Firstly, her people questioned whether God had their best interests in mind, so He rained down manna from Heaven. A sample of that bread was to be kept in a container. Secondly, Moses had not yet descended the mount with the Ten Commandments when the Jews fashioned a golden-calf idol to worship! Moses broke the stone tablets, but God had him hew out two new ones and God re-wrote those tables. Lastly, the nation defied Moses and Aaron, doubting they were God’s chosen leaders. Hence, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign the priesthood belonged to the tribe of Levi—particularly Aaron and his sons.

On top of the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat, where God’s “Shekinah” glory abode. Literally, the only thing that was between God’s presence and these objects/souvenirs of rebellion was the animals blood applied once a year! Hebrews 9:7,11,12,14 reveals the type/antitype: “[7] But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:… [11] But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; [12] Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. [14] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….