Frozen in Death #5

Saturday, June 18, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Read Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14,20-26. On the Monday before His Thursday crucifixion, Christ Jesus was near Jerusalem when He encountered a fig tree “and found nothing thereon, but leaves only” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13). Here was Israel’s religious system symbolized—advertising its superficial “greeneries” (alleged “life”) but, upon closer examination, utterly fruitless inside (spiritually dead and therefore useless to God)! In fact, this narrative of the fig tree is presented in conjunction with the Lord purging the polluted Jerusalem Temple of Satan’s emissaries (see Matthew 21:12-17 and Mark 11:15-19). You can also compare it to The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9, Christ seeking fruit (faith and good works) in national Israel but finding none during His three-year earthly ministry.

Let us ponder another illustration. Imagine a dead tree with bare branches, with neither leaves nor fruit. We can glue green leaves to it, and hang ripe fruit from it—but that nice external appearance does not detract from the fact that tree is lifeless. Religion is dead, so it cannot produce the life of God. Think of yet another analogy. We can take a dirty, dead battery and clean it with soap and water—but it is still powerless. Religion has no power, so it cannot produce the works of God.

Victorious Christian living occurs when we are strengthened with might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17). If we are alive in Jesus Christ, it is His life, and He will produce fruit: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart(Ephesians 6:6). We learn and believe the principles of grace outlined in Romans through Philemon, thereby eschewing spiritual hypocrisy, duplicity, and immobility!

Frozen in Death #4

Friday, June 17, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

In Matthew chapter 15, the Lord Jesus censured the vain, hollow religious system corrupting His nation: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah 29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Also, the parallel passage, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Verily, they read and heard the Hebrew Bible during synagogue services every Saturday Sabbath. Doubtless, they sang excerpts from the Book of Psalms at their religious gatherings—including the feast days. “How we love God! Praise the LORD!” However, it was empty talk: there was no internal faith in their spiritual heart to correspond to the holy words proceeding from their physical lips. Their unbelief, refusing to trust Jesus as Christ during His earthly ministry, proved that was so. What is far more important is the heart attitude, a love for the LORD’S Book and a sincere quotation of its teachings, not blindly following religious “authorities” who simply and mindlessly utter sound waves for religious duty’s sake!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). It is the Word of God’s Grace—His Bible rightly divided—that we trust and then apply to our daily lives, the resultant joy manifesting itself in songs. Here is how we avoid boarding the “frozen ship….”

Frozen in Death #3

Thursday, June 16, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Christ denounced Israel’s religious leaders during His earthly ministry: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:25-28).

Religion emphasizes formalism, adhering to rules and regulations so as to produce a desired outward appearance (but ignoring the inside—a heart of faith). Consider Jesus’ illustrations. Think of washing a cup’s outside, but leaving its inside dirty (and the inside, where the drink goes, is the more important surface!). Imagine cleaning the dish’s bottom, but letting its top remain filthy (and the top, where the food is placed, is the more important surface!). The Jews of the first century scrubbed and painted graves bright white so as to clearly demarcate the location of “unclean” corpses (see Numbers 19:11,16 for the reason). Even though these tombs had a delightful exterior, what really mattered was the disgusting interior: within were human remains decomposing because of sin! What seemed righteous on the outside was actually unrighteous on the inside.

Let us remember the “frozen ship” that we read about earlier. We can be active with our church and ministry programs, conferences, schools, and all the rest. Yet, is it empty works-religion (our spiritually-dead flesh impersonating Jesus Christ) or sound Bible doctrine (the indwelling Holy Spirit working in and through us as we who are alive in Christ walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us)? It can either be “broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” or “the fountain of living waters.” The choice is ours….

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 30, 2022

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. 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 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘in array’ mean?” and “What does ‘environ’ mean?

Believing Unbelievers #4

Saturday, March 26, 2022

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:23-25 KJV).

Is it possible to be a believing unbeliever? According to today’s Scripture, YES!

Imagine being in today’s Scripture. To watch the Lord heal the sick, cast out devils, and do other mighty miracles would have truly been a sight to behold! It is beyond our comprehension. Yet, He was not seeking to entertain anyone—and He knew who was present just for amusement, to experience a spiritual high or adrenaline rush.

Consider modern Christendom. We notice many people walking aisles, making professions of faith, kneeling and bawling uncontrollably at “altars,” dancing and lifting hands to “praise and worship” music, packing stadium “sanctuaries,” sitting in confessional booths, being water baptized, reciting the “sinner’s prayer,” teaching Sunday School classes, preaching fervent sermons, knocking on doors, passing out tracts and Bibles, joining faculties of prestigious seminaries, sitting on Bible translation committees, talking about “Jesus” and “the Holy Ghost,” writing “Christian” study “aids,” memorizing creeds and confessions, organizing missions trips, travelling and setting up “healing tents,” and a host of other activities. The average person cannot help but remark, “Look at all these ‘Christians!’”

One brother in Christ observed: “God did not give the Scriptures for the purpose of scholarly intellectual exercise.” Yet, as he pointed out, innumerable people have used them—are using them—for just that. Textual critics study Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic. They pore over ancient manuscripts, teach theology and church history classes, and debate “Christian” philosophy, but is there any personal heart faith in the Bible itself? How many of them are actually Bible-believing Christians? Who are members of the Church the Body of Christ, and who are simply members of manmade denominations? Do they know what the Gospel of Grace even is? Could they show us verses for victorious Christian living?

Intellectual assent is no substitute for heart faith….

Bible Q&A #935: “What are ‘victuals?’

Something in Which to Glory!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:12-14 KJV).

In what shall we glory? About what shall we boast? In what shall we find value?

Religion produces people who enjoy bragging all about their “dedication to God.” “Look what I did—the ceremonies in which I have participated, the many prayers I faithfully recited daily, how much I put in the collection plate, see how many pleasures I gave up to please God! Come, see how much I love Him!” Dear friends, the Apostle Paul found great value in something—but that something was not what he did. All that human flesh can accomplish pales in comparison to the work in today’s Scripture.

As Lent begins, the time when religionists temporarily (a mere 40 days) relinquish some pleasant food or activity, let us remember that our performance is often non-performance. Once we place ourselves on that treadmill of “do, do, do,” we are guaranteed to fail at some point. Human flesh is simply too weak to maintain 100 percent—that is sin! Even concerning one rule, we cannot keep it perfectly. We mess up eventually.

If ever we believe that our puny works are worth bragging about, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s Scripture. While some boast in their religiosity (in the passage, the Judaizers applauding their rite of physical circumcision), and such denominationalists today urge us to obey their church’s instructions so they too may boast in our ability, let us eschew such foolishness. Being imperfect, all their works do not measure up to Christ’s finished crosswork. At Calvary, we find the only sacrifice that will ever please the God of the Bible. If we must boast, let us brag that He did what we could never, ever do!

See our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians observe Lent?

A Life That Will Please

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

Today’s Scripture tells us who alone can live a life pleasing in God’s sight!

Everyone does “good” deeds. Yet, doing “good” is not necessarily good. For instance, people often do “good” just to receive praise/reward, make up for their wrongs, feel good, et cetera. Furthermore, despite our “good” deeds, we have plenty more bad ones! Pride, lying, evil thoughts, being a false witness, and being contentious are some of the things the LORD hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).

Mankind cannot even keep 10 simple rules from God. However, religion continues to urge us to keep seven sacraments, utter various prayers, give assorted offerings and “tithes,” attend numerous feasts and festivals, and perform sundry other tasks to “hopefully” please God and avoid hellfire. Whether we attempt to keep a church’s laws, our laws, or God’s laws, our flesh is far too weak to ever measure up. Just look at what God’s religion did to Israel—how much worse some man-made religion does to us!

As Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a religious leader of Israel. He was a nitpicker concerning Law-keeping, and yet, after his soul salvation, he admitted that all of his religion was “but dung” compared to Jesus Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:3-11). Even for the Christian, to live a perfect life is impossible (read of Paul’s miserable existence in Romans chapter 7). Paul had to forsake his vain religion and learn today’s Scripture: the Christian life is NOT the performance of the Christian, but the Lord Jesus Christ living and working in the Christian, as the Christian walks in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to him or her!

If we trust a Saviour who will save—the Lord Jesus Christ—and trust a Book that will teach—the King James Bible—we can redeem the year for the great God and our Saviour, “who loved [us], and gave himself for [us]!” 🙂

Redeem the Year!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

What great advice for 2022!

Despite 2,000 years of Bible schools and seminaries, 2,000 years of a completed Bible canon, 2,000 years of Bible reading in churches, several decades of “Christian” television and radio, and just over a decade of widespread use of “Christian” websites, how sad that Bible ignorance is still quite extensive (it is as if God never gave His Word to start with!).

Frankly, the Church the Body of Christ needs to wake up! The verse previous to today’s Scripture says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (verse 14). Paul, loosely quoting Isaiah 60:1, reminded us that the spiritual ignorance that gripped Israel in Isaiah’s day seized Christians in his day—and it still grips Christians 20 centuries later. Feel-good sermons, enjoyable “worship” services, and rites, rituals, and ceremonies will NOT solve this problem—they exacerbate it!

“[God] will have all men to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Do you want this New Year to count for God’s glory? First, you need to get saved from sins and hell! You need to become a Christian by trusting in and relying on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is only part of God’s will for you, for 1 Timothy 2:4b continues, “[God] will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Now, God’s will for your Christian life is daily, personal Bible study to renew your mind, so your faith in those verses can cause God to work in your life—it will be His life, thus making you “perfect [spiritually mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Today’s Scripture urges us to buy back the time Satan has robbed from God (time created for God’s glory). By faith, we need to make that time glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by applying His Word, particularly Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to our lives. Have a good year in Christ! 🙂

You can download our free “One-Year Bible Reading Schedule.”

See our archived Bible Q&A: “What Scriptural advice can you give me for the New Year?

‘Twas the Sunday Night Before Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2021

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 KJV).

Let us not be so sidetracked by religion and commercialization that we miss the reason for the Christmas Season….

During the Christmas Season, we wonder how many people are visiting church for the second time this year (the other being Easter Sunday). How many will be going to church today—the Sunday before Christmas—just to feel “religious” or “holy?” How many really know Jesus Christ? For many, visiting a church building is just an obligation; they do not have faith in God’s Word and have no interest in God’s Word.

We do not go to church to “feel closer to God,” for if we have trusted in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we cannot be any closer to God than we already are in Christ! “[Before salvation, we were] without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh [close to God] by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12,13).

Furthermore, we do not go to church in order to get God’s blessings, for God has already given us “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We go to church, not because we are keeping Israel’s Sabbath day, since we are not obligated to observe Israel’s religious days (Colossians 2:16). We go to church to fellowship with like-minded believers and hear sound doctrine… more than twice a year, by the way.

In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy that whenever he would assemble with fellow Christians, certain behavior was acceptable and other types of behavior were not (described throughout the epistle of 1 Timothy). Recall that when the Bible refers to “the church,” it refers to the body of believers, not the physical building in which they meet.

As we get opportunities, let us make an effort to reach these dear souls misled by all the vain religious tradition and Christmas commercialization, and may we tell them of the wonderful Christ Jesus whose name is found in Christmas!

*Based on the poem “‘Twas the Sunday Night Before Christmas.”

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27,28 KJV).

“Looks can be deceiving” is not only true during Halloweentime, but confirmed year-round within Christendom.

Today is Halloween, when children dress up and feign themselves to be creatures they are not. Likewise, many church leaders today wear “Christian” garbs, but their ministries do not bring the Lord Jesus Christ glory and honor. They promote their denomination, and seek to perpetuate it, rather than serve and exalt the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. The Bible manifests these who appear to be good, as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus Christ exposed Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the nation in His day. In His Parable of the Tares, Matthew 13:24-30,37-43, Christ explained how just as He had sown good seed (wheat, believing Jews) in Israel, Satan had also sown tares/weeds (unbelieving Jews). Tares resemble wheat; unbelieving Jews resemble believing Jews. The unbelieving Pharisees and scribes, for instance, looked like God’s people (believing Israel). Judas Iscariot was another example of Satan’s tares—the apostles never realized who Judas really was until it was too late!

But Satan’s counterfeit believers are not confined to Israel’s program. Today, within local assemblies of the Body of Christ, there are people feigning themselves to be Christians: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Beloved, beware of the church leaders who are arrayed in hypocrisy, “and avoid them” (Romans 16:17b). If their teaching does not agree with the rightly divided King James Bible, you have no business as a child of God to be listening to them.

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see our special study, “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?