Understanding Grace Living

Saturday, May 21, 2022

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid” (Romans 6:14,15 KJV).

Friend, would you like to understand grace living?

What is the key to victorious Christian living for us? Again, had this question been correctly answered these last 20 centuries, there would be much less confusion, disappointment, and discouragement among church members. Try as hard as we might, we cannot (!) force God to do something He is not doing. Indeed, we can pick and choose Bible verses that teach “perform to get God’s blessings” (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14, for example). This is the Law of Moses, operating at that particular point on the Bible timeline. Yet, is that what the LORD tells us today in this Age of Grace? No. No. No. According to the Lord speaking through the Apostle Paul, today’s Scripture teaches us we are under grace not law. To be “under grace” is opposite of “under law”—if words mean anything, of course!

It is entirely possible—yea, it has happened—that we can be “scriptural” and be outside God’s will. Not only must we be scriptural, we must also be dispensational. What are God’s instructions to us? They are “the Dispensation of the Grace of God” committed exclusively to the Apostle Paul’s trust: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of grace of God which is given me to you-ward” (Ephesians 3:1,2). To find victorious Christian living for us members of the Church the Body of Christ, we read Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Contrary to popular belief, to be “under grace” does not mean God encourages us to go live in sin. (We were already doing that before we came to faith in Christ anyway!) Grace teaches us not to sin (see Titus 2:11-15). What Almighty (all-powerful) God can do for us through Calvary (grace)—for we are too sinful and weak to do anything for Him (law)—is how the Christian life operates. It is Jesus Christ’s life manifested in and through us, as we walk by faith in the principles of Pauline theology.

NOTE: With our “Original 7” studies expanded a seventh time, we grow up into more sound Bible doctrine.

To Strike the Right Note

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV).

How can “the right note” be struck?

Once, a celebrated composer performed before a global audience tuning in by radio and television. Taking his seat at the piano, with hundreds of millions listening and watching, he nervously placed his hands on the keys and began playing. Everything was proceeding smoothly—until he hit the wrong key and his haunting song known around the world for decades suddenly sounded awful for a moment! He resumed playing as usual, but, near the end, he pressed yet another wrong key! Again, temporarily, his song sounded weird.

The above true story illustrates the Christian life. A beautiful melody is heard as we have victory over sin, for the Lord’s hands are playing perfectly. Then, our fingers push His fingers aside and we fumble with the keys. What an embarrassing disaster! An older man in Christ once asked a new believer, “Do you find it difficult to live the Christian life?” “Why,” the young man replied, “I certainly do!” The aged Christian wisely rejoined, “Not only is it ‘difficult,’ it is impossible, so you have to stop trying to live it! Only Jesus Christ can live His life!” From that day forward, that young man never forgot it—and he grew up to pass on that advice to me long ago (and, now, you can tell others!).

Father God never expects us to be sinless. As long as we are in these bodies of flesh, we always tend to insert our religious efforts to “enhance” the Christian life. It is here that we sound “off-key,” and rightly so. Let us remember today’s Scripture. Unless we have sound Bible doctrine stored up in the inner man and are walking by faith in it on a daily basis, we “quench [hinder, put out, obstruct] the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and thereby we “strike the wrong notes.” Only Jesus Christ can live the Christian life, so let us place our faith in Him and not ourselves. His fingers never hit the wrong keys!

Believing Unbelievers #7

Tuesday, March 29, 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!

We can fool people some of the time, but we can fool God none of the time. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Bible penetrates down to our innermost being, for it is the means whereby the God of the Bible evaluates just what ideas our heart entertains and exactly what plans our heart devises.

Dear friends, let us never forget to avoid religious hypocrisy at all costs. To appear to be a Christian, to sound like a Christian, but still be “in Adam” instead of being “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) does not deceive the Lord! He knows it is not Christ’s life in us but our flesh copying or mimicking. A denomination or theological system has been formed in us, but not Christ (Galatians 4:19). The internal, not the external, is what carries the greatest weight in eternity. Indeed, it is entirely possible to be the most pious soul on Earth—the world’s most dedicated church member, incumbered with innumerable rules and regulations—and still wind up going to eternal damnation, for believing in the head is no substitute for believing in the heart.

To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in the heart means we have already learned and admitted our performance is insufficient and always will be. In our heart, we have reckoned as true our need for the Saviour and all that He has done and all that He can do for us at Calvary’s cross. Ultimately, it is His life in us, “That Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:17). May we be believing (heart) believers, not believing (head) unbelievers. Remember, God knows the difference! 🙂

Believing Unbelievers #6

Monday, March 28, 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!

While advantageous (when compared to ignorance), being knowledgeable of Bible truth in and of itself does not automatically guarantee one has a right standing before God. For example, consider this startling passage: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Did they not address Jesus as “Lord?” Did they not perform “good” deeds? They preached, cast out devils, and did “many wonderful works”and even gave Jesus (not Satan) all the credit. Despite this, He rejects them, telling them He has never had an intimate relationship with them. Moreover, He remarks, “Ye that work iniquity [evil, wickedness]!” They had spiritual light, but they were deceived because they did not genuinely receive it and actually believe it in the heart. It was intellectualism and fleshliness, religious busyness, but not God’s work in and through them. Unfortunately, Hell and the Lake of Fire will be packed with billions of such souls. They sat in church buildings and attended Bible studies for decades, seeing and hearing God’s Word over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. They looked like and talked like believers. Yet, no personal faith in the heart was ever exercised in Christ Jesus’ finished crosswork at Calvary.

They knew of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was far better for them to have known Him, or, rather, for Him to have known them….

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?

The Only Praise That Counts

Monday, February 28, 2022

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God (1 Corinthians 4:5 KJV).

It is always wonderful to be recognized and appreciated for doing a good job. Therefore, people vie for titles such as “Employee of the Year,” “Best Leader,” “Most Distinguished Citizen,” “World Champion,” “Best Worker,” and “Most Learned Scholar.” Of course, egos are at stake—also, grant money, reputations, employment, and educations. The greatest disadvantage, however, is we as mere mortal humans can never really read hearts to discern who is truly doing good (heart of faith) and who is not (heart of unbelief).

The only life the God of the Bible will ever accept is that of the Lord Jesus Christ—absolute, complete, total perfection, utter sinlessness. If anyone is ever actually doing “good,” it would only be Jesus Christ living in and through that person. Human efforts—which is what non-Christians and fleshly Christians can only ever provide—get no award or praise from God (the ultimate Judge) though human evaluation commends them.

For example, I once knew someone who won a prestigious award as a teacher. Yet, had she been competing for the “good Christian friend” or “mature Bible student” award, she would have lost most miserably. Were her efforts at her workplace God’s Spirit moving in her via sound Bible doctrine, or just her flesh? The Lord alone can and will answer that one day. Or, think of how I was acquainted with a local false teacher who “studied the Bible.” He deceived a great many souls—and repeatedly (but unsuccessfully) tried to corrupt me as well. Numerous people regarded him as a “scholarly” man, and he had some clout in religious circles (especially online), but, if he were striving for the “most honest educator” or “sound in the faith leader” title, he would have never even come to close to being qualified. Did he die a saved man, or simply religious? The Lord alone can and already has determined that.

Remember, dear saints, let us seek to have “praise of God” alone (today’s Scripture). His judgment is what ultimately counts!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who are ‘abjects?’

Idols in the Heart #3

Thursday, January 27, 2022

“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (Ezekiel 14:2,3 KJV).

Look at their heart problem!

Reread the main thought of today’s Scripture and its context: “…these men have set up their idols in their heart, Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart,… every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart…” (verses 3,4,7).

Before sin becomes a physical action, it is a heart attitude. Jeremiah 17:9 explains: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Our soul is naturally wicked, spiritually darkened and inclined to believe and do everything contrary to our Creator’s will. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). After a pattern of poor thinking, poor conduct follows.

The conversion of a soul dead in trespasses and sins, to new life in Christ, is far more than forcing people to give up physical trinkets and other religious paraphernalia. It involves a humble heart willing to finally give up on self and admit all that “performance” in religion is not worth bragging about. In light of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, all else is “but dung” (Philippians 3:8). Once we in our heart come to trust in that Gospel message—and that alone—our idols in our heart will be removed and now we remove our idols from our shelf! 🙂

Bowed Together! #8

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Recall the Sabbath Day was to serve as Israel’s weekly reminder to contemplate God’s work during the Creation Week and subsequent rest (cf. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11). Every Saturday, the Jews were to stop their labors and remember God’s purpose and plan for Creation. Why had the LORD rested that first Sabbath? His work completed, it was time for Him to enjoy the Heavens and the Earth! Alas, sin entered the world through Adam in Genesis chapter 3. Whatever God intended for Creation has yet to be fulfilled. Israel had been formed to take Adam’s place in the Earth, but she too rebelled and willfully followed Satan!

Sabbath rest ultimately looks toward Millennial Kingdom rest, when all Creation is delivered from Satan and sin, and God’s original purpose in Creation is finally brought to pass (see Hebrews 3:7–4:11). Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ performed a series of Sabbath miracles—including the healing of the “bowed together” woman—to highlight the deliverance connected to His earthly kingdom.

Upon hearing God’s wonderful promises to sinful Israel, Satan objects in Isaiah 49:24, “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” Verses 25 and 26: But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour [!] and thy Redeemer [!], the mighty One of Jacob.

“And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him” (Luke 13:17).

Bowed Together! #7

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

“And he [the Lord Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity” (Luke 13:10-12 KJV).

What lesson is the Holy Spirit conveying through this passage of the Holy Bible?

Although the disabled woman “glorified God” because of her healing (verse 13), the ruler of the synagogue “answered with indignation” (verse 14). He is angry the Lord Jesus has violated rabbinical traditions, religious rules that forbade the rendering of medical aid on the Sabbath unless in life-and-death situations. “Jesus should have cured her yesterday or tomorrow! Her condition was not urgent enough that He had to help her today!”

Verses 15 and 16: “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” Wow! Now there is a rebuttal involving great thought. Here these Jewish religionists would work by freeing their animals to drink water even on the Sabbath, but they had the audacity to criticize the Lord loosing a human hostage and leading her to wholesome life on the Sabbath!? Whereas they pitied beasts, they were callous toward their fellow people! Such confusion and nonsense are found among the “animal rights” activists today, with human life meaningless but animal life exalted.

Christ identified the woman’s—and Israel’s—overall problem. Through his lie program, Satan has “bound” her, made her his prisoner by placing her in shackles or chains (sin and false religion). Yet, God can and does free her: “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” In fact, notice she is “a daughter of Abraham” (verse 16), a Jewess. Jesus’ earthly ministry is to liberate Israel from Satanic captivity, and there is no better day than the Sabbath Day to teach such a lesson….