Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Spirituality or Futility? #7

Thursday, November 9, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Dear friend, a sure way to engage in futility is to reach back into previous dispensations and/or reach forward into future dispensations, and force those verses on us today. To use Bible verses God once applied before our dispensation, or to follow Scriptures God will apply after our dispensation, is to fall prey to Satan’s “wiles” or deceitful strategies (Ephesians 6:11). If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, such Bible mishandling frustrates or hinders God’s plans for your Christian life! If you have not trusted Christ, such Bible misusage hides from you God’s current Gospel message! Christians remain confused and defeated; lost people stay unsaved and Hell-bound!

Satan would never discourage us from quoting Bible verses because he did it in Matthew 4:6. Yea, he used Scripture… but did not handle it dispensationally. As long as God’s Word is not “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), it furthers Satan’s agenda most ingeniously (without suspicion!). “We are in God’s will because we are Scriptural. Satan cannot deceive us.” Of course, to not use the Scriptures God’s way is to, by default, achieve Satan’s goal!

God is not currently forming an earthly people—the nation Israel. There is no water baptism and no tithing (mandatory giving) today. God is not telling us to confess our sins, follow the Mosaic Law, keep the Sabbath, offer blood sacrifices for our sins, sell everything we have and give to the poor, drink poison, heal the sick, raise the dead, look for “signs,” build an ark, and so on. God told other people in other dispensations to pursue and do those things, but He did not tell the Apostle Paul to instruct us concerning them. What futility to try to make God do something He is not doing today! If we will know what He is doing today, and will do His will today, we heed the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Spirituality or Futility? #5

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Dear friend, is it Scriptural to slay and offer our children to the LORD God? Why, yes, read the instructions in Genesis chapter 22. Would we be following the Bible if we built an ark to escape an approaching world flood? Of course, God commanded that in Genesis chapter 6! Is it Biblical for us to bring animal blood sacrifices for our sins? Indeed, the Book of Leviticus says so. Would we be following God’s Word for executing people who collected firewood on the Saturday Sabbath? The Book of Numbers contains those guidelines, you know! Should we sell all our possessions and give to the poor? The Lord Jesus said to in Luke 12:33. He also declared one could drink poison and not die in Mark 16:18!

When church members today say, “Every promise in the Book is mine; I follow all the Bible,” they do not mean that. Not one slaughters their children in sacrifice, not one builds an ark to prepare for a global flood, not one executes those who work on the Saturday Sabbath, not one offers animal sacrifices, not one sells all possessions to give to the poor, and not one drinks the poison. Why do they not follow these verses if they are claiming “all” the Bible? Those verses do not support their denomination! Why do they not “follow Jesus” in Luke 12:33 and Mark 16:18? It is too awkward and revealing!

The truth is, dear friend, we can grab (“name and claim”) all the verses we want, but if it is not what God is doing today, we are wasting our time. Whatever is not according to God’s will shall eventually come to nothing. According to the Bible, the Dispensation of the Grace of God was given to the Apostle Paul for him to give it to us Gentiles. We thus need to listen to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us through Paul….

Spirituality or Futility? #4

Monday, November 6, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Despite instructing the Corinthians to heed the Lord Jesus Christ’s words spoken through the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit anticipated disrespect and rebellion. Some Christians would still prefer religion (what they wanted to do, they would indeed do!). Read the latter part of today’s Scripture very carefully. To pursue their own desires, they would ignore God’s words through Paul. Skirting Pauline doctrine, they would then cleverly “justify” their activities using other Scriptures. (Sound familiar?)

In the 2,000 years since the carnal Corinthian church was urged to follow God’s spokesman to Gentiles, Paul (Romans 11:13), and warned not to be “ignorant” of his apostolic authority over them, a most unfortunate result is before us. Even at such a late date, the professing church has overwhelmingly and most pathetically failed to be spiritual. Instead of following the Apostle Paul as he follows Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1), church members follow everyone else.

Roman Catholics elevate “Pope” Peter and his “apostolic successors.” The Kingdom Hall of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” stresses the teachings of Charles Taze Russell. “Christian Scientists” follow Mary Eddy Baker. The Church of Christ parrots Alexander Campbell. Joseph Smith still guides the Mormons. Seventh-Day Adventists look to Ellen G. White for instruction. The Lutherans to Martin Luther, the Methodists to John and Charles Wesley, the Presbyterians to John Calvin, et cetera.

Now, friends, we will never, ever, ever, ever, EVER say these people ignore the Bible. Their doctrinal statements and creeds quote Bible verses to some extent. In addition to mishandling Scripture by quoting only the “preferred” phrases, they corrupt God’s Word by forcing on us verses that God never directed to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. They do not give preeminence to Christ’s heavenly ministry through Paul. Instead, their ignorant leaders—guiding them in confusion—place emphasis on Christ’s earthly ministry. (Christ’s earthly ministry was to the nation Israel exclusively, as Matthew 15:24 and Romans 15:8 expressly declare!)

Ignorance thus turns into futility….

To Please Men, or God?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do it, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:22,23 KJV).

Whom shall we please—men, or God?

For two years, a Christian man periodically taught Bible studies at his house. He invited various individuals, including his sister (who he knew was unsaved and trapped in the cult he himself had escaped decades earlier). At his request, she attended most, if not all, his studies. He gave a clear Gospel message and invitation after each meeting. One day, she informed him that she was going away for the weekend. Why? That cult was sponsoring a retreat and she had enrolled!! The dear brother in Christ was disappointed beyond words. Evidently, she had been attending his studies simply to satisfy him.

A new Christian woman recently expressed to me bewilderment about a “spiritually disjointed” married couple she knew. The wife was a “Bible reader,” supposedly “skilled in the Scriptures;” her husband was a cult member. They attended services at a “feel-good” prosperity church and assembled with the cult for “worship services.” The Christian woman asked me how such incongruity could exist. I explained to her that the wife is likely reading verses but not studying them rightly divided. She cannot discern truth from error because she knows no truth. Furthermore, it appears she “fellowships” (?) with her husband’s denomination just to gratify him. The “feel-good” church is evidently her preference, so he goes there to pacify her.

While today’s Scripture features the servant-master (employee-employer) relationship, by extension, it better explains the Christian-God relationship. Whom should we be serving? Are we to attend Bible study or church services to satisfy a spouse, neighbor, sibling, parent, or friend? Is our behavior merely to impress those people watching us (“eyeservice, as menpleasers”)? Whatever we do, friends, we should do it in “singleness [sincerity] of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do it, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Above all, we must conduct our lives motivated by heart faith in God’s message of grace to us. “…As to the Lord, and not unto men.”

Arrayed in Hypocrisy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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?

Bible Q&A #435: “Can you explain the ‘Corban’ tradition?

Sola Fide

Monday, October 30, 2017

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

The third Reformation principle, “sola fide” (Latin, “faith alone”), protests the well-known Roman Catholic mishandling of James 2:24. “A man is justified by faith and works” is clearly written to Israel (chapter 1, verse 1). Following God’s instructions to others is surely destructive. Lost people wake up in eternal hellfire quoting Scripture (including James 2:24!).

In this the Dispensation of God’s Grace, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. Romans chapter 3: “[26] To declare, I say, at this time [God’s] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) continues in chapter 4: “[3] For what saith the scripture? [Sola Scriptura!] Abraham believed God [Sola Fide!], and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace [Sola Gratia!], but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not [Sola Fide!], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [Sola Fide!], his faith [Sola Fide!] is counted for righteousness.” Rather than having religious self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), remember that Heaven is gained by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Reformers, while lacking the more perfect Bible understanding we enjoy, nevertheless walked in the spiritual light they had. They understood justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans chapters 1-5). In the 500 years since, we have recovered the rest of the Book of Romans that religious tradition had stifled (chapters 6-16—victorious Christian identity and living, differences between Israel and the Body of Christ, and grace principles for various life situations). Brethren, let us walk in the light we have, further building on the Reformers’ efforts! 🙂

“Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Glory to God alone!)