A Life That Will Please

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

“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]!” 🙂

Emmanuel’s Tabernacle

Saturday, December 24, 2022

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:23 KJV).

Using the Scriptures, we can date the birth of Emmanuel, Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was a priest, “of the course [order] of Abia [Abijah]” (Luke 1:5). Under King David, Israel’s priests were organized into 24 courses (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). A priest from each course served a week in the Temple ministration (and thus served one week twice a year). Israel’s calendar began with Abib/Nisan, equivalent to March 16-April 15 (Exodus 12:1,2; Exodus 13:4). Passover was observed on April 14, starting Israel’s religious calendar.

Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread) lasted from April 15-21. The first course of priests served in the Temple around this time. Zacharias’ course, Abijah, was the eighth course after Passover (1 Chronicles 24:10), thus placing Zacharias’ service roughly eight weeks after Passover (or June 17-23). This was the time when the angel appeared to Zacharias to announce John’s conception (Luke 1:8-22). Once Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth leave the Temple and go home, Elisabeth conceives John (late June; Luke 1:23-25).

Six months after Elisabeth conceived John in late June (Luke 1:26), Mary conceived Jesus—in late December. Contrary to religious tradition, the birthday of Christ is not December 25. Late December is the time of Christ’s conception. The conception of Christ in Mary’s womb, not Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb, is the biblical immaculate conception: it was Christ’s conception, not Mary’s, that was sinless (Luke 1:35).

If a perfect human gestation lasts 280 days (9 months), late September/early October is the time of Christ’s birth. During this time of year, recall that God had Israel observing the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jews would dwell in “booths” (tents, tabernacles) for seven days (Leviticus 23:39-44).

While Israel was observing Tabernacles in September/October, God was born as a man (Jesus Christ) of the virgin Mary, and dwelt (“tabernacled”) with them! Sadly, very few Jews paid any attention to Jesus, “Emmanuel,” “God with us” (today’s Scripture). The rest of Israel ignored “God dwelling among them” (John 1:14).

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

You may also see our other archived study: “Why do people use ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas?’

The Wise Wise Men

Thursday, December 22, 2022

“…There came wise men from the east… And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1,11 KJV).

When we see the Nativity Scene, we observe three wise men assembled around Baby Jesus’ manger. Actually, the Bible never indicates how many wise men there were, and the Bible never says they visited Christ as a baby.

According to the Bible, an indeterminate number of wise men from the east (Gentiles) saw the star of Christ in the east, so they travel to Jerusalem, inquiring where to find Christ, the King of Jews (verses 1,2). King Herod and Jerusalem are troubled, and Herod summons Israel’s religious leaders to tell him where the Messiah will be born. They tell him, according to Micah 5:2, “Bethlehem of Judaea” (verses 3-6). Herod then sends the wise men to seek Jesus, hoping to find and destroy Him (lest He become king and end Herod’s reign).

The star leads the wise men to Nazareth, where Joseph and Mary live in a “house”notice this is not the manger scene. Also, note that Jesus is not a baby here, but a “young child” (verses 9,11). In fact, he is as much as two years old (verse 16). By the way, according to Numbers 24:17, that star—an angel (cf. Job 38:7)—that the wise men saw signified the Messiah-King of Israel… they were wise in that they recognized and followed it!

Interestingly, the wise men worship Jesus, not Mary and/or the angel, and they bring Him gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (today’s Scripture)—frankincense and myrrh are aromatic gum resins burned as incense. Gold is for a King, frankincense is for a Priest, and myrrh is for a Prophet—Jesus is all three (Isaiah 9:6,7; Zechariah 6:13; Deuteronomy 18:15,18). Amazingly, Isaiah 60:6, written some 700 years beforehand, even prophesied Gentiles would bring God gifts of gold and frankincense. The Bible is an amazing Book!

Sadly, these Gentiles had more respect for Israel’s King than Israel. These wise men recognized fulfilled prophecy… they were wise men indeed!

For more information, see our archived Bible Q&A: “Were there really three wise men?

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Monday, October 31, 2022

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?” In addition, “What does the Bible say about ghosts?

Heathen Churches #5

Saturday, August 6, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Bible says “heathen,” among other traits, have “churches,” repetitious prayers (chants), and various “aids to worship” (idols, images, and shrines). In fact, the ancient Jews corrupted the LORD’S Jerusalem Temple with this false religion. “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem(2 Chronicles 36:14). That evil religion had so infiltrated Israel during Christ’s earthly ministry that He addressed and condemned it (see Matthew 6:7,8; Matthew 23:1-39)! It had caused the deaths of countless Jewish saints, and even Jesus was ultimately murdered because this heathen mindset infected and confused His people.

In one sense, it was actually easier to become a Christian and learn Christian truth 2,000 years ago than it is today. Back then, there were not tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations riddled with heathenism all claiming to be “the church Jesus founded” as now. It was far simpler to identify Christian teaching, seeing how it was separate and distinct from heathenism. Over these last 20 centuries, however, the definite lines between truth and error have become blurred. The advanced revelations the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave the world through the Apostle Paul, have been increasingly set aside in favor of the pagan darkness they were meant to overcome.

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles [heathen!], unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:16-18). If we are to guard against heathen churches, we had better look especially to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Heathen Churches #4

Friday, August 5, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Spirit’s commentary on Israel’s 10 northern tribes: “And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove [shrine], and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal [an idol]” (2 Kings 17:15,16). These sins resulted in their being taken away in judgment via the Assyrian Captivity.

About the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the Prophet Jeremiah penned: “Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jeremiah 10:1-5). Do you happen to know of any trees decorated with “silver and gold” for religious purposes? The Bible calls it heathenism, not Christianity!

“Images,” shrines, and “idols” are aids to worship in heathenism. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalm 135:15). “And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone [idols] (Ezekiel 20:32). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Heathen Churches #3

Thursday, August 4, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

Heathen also pray. Therefore, praying in and of itself is no automatic indication a person is a Christian. We ponder this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8).

In Christ’s day, the “heathen” (Gentiles, nations) recited prayers that were nothing but “vain repetitions.” Over and over and over and over and over again, these idolaters begged their deities (gods and goddesses) to intervene and give them this or give them that. They were under the impression that repeating something constantly would increase the likelihood of a “higher power” taking notice and helping them by answering their prayers. It was such mindless, mechanical, empty behavior that the speech was spiritual gibberish or babblings. The Lord Jesus instructed His followers that this was not how His Heavenly Father operated and it was not how He wanted them to function either.

We must always remember the religious or belief systems in existence today (except Judaism and Christianity), in their most basic form, can be traced back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11. Consequently, the “vain repetitions” of Christ’s earthly ministry are with us even now. They have existed for millennia in Eastern or Oriental religions—and they are known as “breath prayers” (essentially, mantras or chants). When Roman Catholicism was being developed during the three or four centuries after Christ, these breath prayers influenced the institution of the rosary, a series of elaborate petitions and adulations meant to influence a “higher power” through habitual recital. Ignorant Protestants, while not accepting the rosary, nevertheless also practice similar “breath prayers” to some degree at times (for instance, “Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I love you;” or, “Praise God, Praise God, Praise God”). Yes, it is controversial. It is also heathenism in “Christian” churches….

Order My Steps #10

Sunday, July 24, 2022

“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 KJV).

May we share the Psalmist’s wish!

Describing victorious Christian living, Paul taught in Romans 8:5-9: “[5] For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. [6] For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [7] Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. [8] So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. [9] But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

If we think like lost people, our conduct will resemble that of lost people. Our Christian life will die with “carnal” or fleshy thinking (chapter 7). “Minding” nothing but natural-man thoughts, our lifestyle reflects that faulty reasoning (chapter 7). Fighting against God, we live contrary to whom He made us in Christ. If, however, we are renewed in the spirit of our mind (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:20-24; Colossians 3:9-16), studying and trusting sound (grace!) Bible doctrine, we will “mind [pay attention to, think about] the things of the Spirit.” This spiritually-minded believer enjoys the life and peace impossible in Romans chapter 7 but achievable in chapter 6.

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,…” (Ephesians 4:17). “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). “Brethren, be followers together of me [Paul], and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” (Philippians 3:17). “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;…” (Colossians 1:10). “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:…” (Colossians 2:6).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is the United States of America in Bible prophecy?

Order My Steps #9

Saturday, July 23, 2022

“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 KJV).

May we share the Psalmist’s wish!

The first five chapters of Romans lay out the doctrine of justification—to wit, how a sinner worthy of God’s righteous wrath in Hell and the Lake of Fire can trust Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins and thereby be declared a Christian or saint (eternally righteous in God’s sight, bound for Heaven).

Chapters 6–8 outline the doctrine of sanctification—namely, how the Christian, in light of his position, is set apart unto God’s purpose and plan on a daily basis in practice. The believer’s walk each and every day will be victorious over sin only if two facts are never forgotten. Firstly, we are under grace not law (Romans chapter 6). Secondly, we are under the Holy Spirit’s authority not the flesh’s power (Romans chapter 8). To ignore (or fail to learn) either of these principles is to suffer that horrendous spiritual shipwreck of chapter 7!

Let us state it another way. When sin masters or controls us, we have not been mindful of Romans chapter 6 (dead to sin, alive unto God). Abandoning chapter 6, we have fallen into the snare of Romans chapter 7 (defeat, misery, hopelessness). To be recovered from the dreadful trap of fleshly living, we learn the lesson Paul himself realized in chapter 8: “[1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. [3] For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: [4] That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There, right there, is the Christian overcoming sin on a daily basis….

Order My Steps #8

Friday, July 22, 2022

“Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 KJV).

May we share the Psalmist’s wish!

Brethren, our Heavenly Father has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). “Ye are complete [lacking nothing] in [Christ]” (Colossians 2:10a). All we truly need, we permanently have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Four necessities given us in Christ are defined in 1 Corinthians 1:30,31: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

Firstly, we need spiritual wisdom, the ability to correctly apply spiritual truths to life. Jesus is our spiritual wisdom. Secondly, we need righteousness, a right standing before God. Christ is our righteousness. Thirdly, we need sanctification, separation unto Father God’s will. Jesus is our sanctification. Finally, we need redemption, a buying back from sin’s dominion. Christ is our redemption. God’s instructions to us are simple: Walk according to the people we already are in Christ!

After three chapters presenting our wealth in Christ, the Holy Spirit through Paul opens the final three chapters of Ephesians concerning our walk: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,…” (Ephesians 4:1). “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:…” (Ephesians 5:8). After concentrating on our wealth in Christ for two chapters, the second half of Colossians begins with our walk: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above [in heaven], where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:…” (Colossians 3:10).

Paying attention to the Holy Spirit’s words through Paul, we enjoy victorious Christian living. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh [sin]…. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law…. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16,18,25). Here is Romans chapter 8….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How are the LORD God and His works ‘terrible?’