An Unlikely Convert #4

Saturday, April 13, 2019

“And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20 KJV).

Who is this preacher?

Thus far, we have been reading the testimony of the Apostle Paul. Listen to him in his own words as he stands before Gentile King Agrippa, nearly 30 years after his conversion: “[9] I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. [10] Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. [11] And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was bloodthirsty religious fanatic! He did not think twice about arresting and putting to death any Jew who followed Jesus of Nazareth. Yea, he was God’s leading enemy in the earth at the time. Saul was heading the world’s rebellion against the God of creation. In Acts chapter 9, Saul (the chief of sinners) met Jesus Christ (the Saviour of sinners)!

First Timothy chapter 1: “[12] And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; [13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

So, Paul’s salvation is a “pattern.” No matter how hopelessly lost someone appears, just remember they can come to Christ by faith as well. The mercy and longsuffering God extended toward Paul is still being offered to any and all today 2,000 years later. If only they would believe on Jesus Christ as Paul did!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘Give strength to the LORD?’

The “Habitation” of God’s Throne

Monday, April 8, 2019

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face (Psalm 89:14 KJV).

Behold, a King like this world has never known!

The word “makown” (as in fixed place, foundation, dwelling place) appears in the Hebrew Bible 17 times; most occurrences are associated with God’s presence. It appears first in Exodus 15:17, when Israel has departed Egypt bound for the Promised Land: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place [makown], O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.”

When then find it regarding Solomon’s Temple: “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place [makown] for thee to abide in for ever” (verse 13). It is the “dwelling place” in verses 39, 43, and 49 (cf. Chronicles 6:2,30,39). Ezra 2:68 speaks of Zerubbabel’s Temple, built later, as “the house of God… set… up in his place [makown].” Heaven is called “the place of [God’s] habitation [makown]” (Psalm 33:14).

Psalm 104:5 refers to the “foundations [makown] of the earth,” those which make Earth permanent forever. Isaiah 4:5 speaks of the LORD creating “upon every dwelling place [makown] of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud of smoke by day, and the shining of a flame of fire by night….” (In light of all these, Daniel 8:11 speaks of the a counterfeit habitation, the “place [makown]” of the Antichrist that will be “cast down” [destroyed].)

Read today’s Scripture again: “Justice and judgment are the habitation [makown] of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” Compare that to Psalm 97:2: “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation [makown] of his throne.” Read these two chapters, as they describe the future reign of Jesus Christ in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16; cf. Luke 1:31-33). His throne is founded upon “justice [righteousness] and judgment [lawfulness],” for He Himself has settled down in that fixed position. Such sits in contradistinction to the rulers of “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4), those to be “cast down!” “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

What a Stiff Neck! #5

Thursday, April 4, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Scripture provides a portrait of the “stiff neck,” and it is anything but flattering. Firstly, it is antonymous to “yield yourself unto the LORD” (2 Chronicles 30:8; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:13). Secondly, it means to “resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51)—refusing to listen to His words and obey them (Jeremiah 17:23). Thirdly, it stems from the heart, an internal sin nature that is contrary to how God designed Adam to function before he fell in sin (Deuteronomy 10:16; cf. Jeremiah 17:9). Fourthly, it originates iniquitous and sinful deeds or actions (Exodus 34:9; cf. Mark 7:20-23). Lastly, it results in God’s judgment (Exodus 33:5).

On one hand, whenever God observes anything that fails to meet His righteous standard, He must act to enforce a penalty. He cannot look at sin (Habakkuk 1:13). On the other hand, He is merciful, gracious, and forgiving toward the sinner (Exodus 34:6,7). He can hold back the wrath they deserve, He can give them pity that they do not deserve, and He can cancel the spiritual debt they have incurred. If we study the above verses as to how “stiffnecked” Israel behaved, and His responses, we see both realities on full display.

When they sinned, when they drew back from His leading, when they did the exact opposite of His commandments, there was chastisement to reform them (if they were willing to listen). Yet, He never completely wiped them off the face of the Earth, did He? Many times they deserved it, but He spared them. Despite all they have done against Him, He still has a plan for them even now, to make them His own and bless them beyond belief!!!

Let us conclude this devotionals arc by seeing a parallel concerning God’s dealings with individuals today….

God’s Grace on Parade

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

“…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20 KJV).

Today, especially here in southern Louisiana, the Catholic festival of Mardi Gras takes advantage of God’s grace. God’s grace abounds even when drunkenness, lasciviousness, and gluttony are committed overtly on our streets for religion. Because we live in the Dispensation of the Grace of God, they can flaunt their sin without being consumed by fire from heaven!

“Mardi Gras,” French for “Fat Tuesday,” is a day when religious people—professing “Christians”—lose self-control (excess alcohol, food, and partying). The following day, Ash Wednesday, they promise to live “holy” for the next 40 days (Lent). A priest will then place ashes on their foreheads proving that God forgave them for that riotous living. Blasphemy!

Regardless of all its biblical allusions (illusions!), Mardi Gras is still evil and anti-God. It was never Christian, originating from pagan Roman festivals, Saturnalia and Lupercalia (interestingly known for riots, drunkenness, gluttony, and fornication, and subsequent repentance).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostles Peter and Paul, was clearly against Mardi Gras reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:3). So why do professing Christians engage in the very activities that God the Holy Spirit condemned?! As Christians, we should “deny” the activities of Mardi Gras (Romans 6:11-15; Titus 2:11-15).

If I appear offended, I am. Mardi Gras, despite its godly façade, is offensive to the great God and my Saviour Jesus Christ! God’s grace continues to tolerate such foolishness from mankind. Man parades his sin, and God parades His grace, holding back wrath.

Are you a Mardi Gras reveler? I declare unto you the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God. God did for you at Calvary what you could never do: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus Christ shed His sinless blood and died to put away all of your sins, Mardi Gras revelry included.

If you rest in Christ Jesus alone as your Saviour, God will save you forever, make a trophy of His grace, and then YOUR life will be God’s grace on parade!

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

You may also see our archived Bible study Q&A, “Should Christians celebrate Mardi Gras?

333’s 2800th – What is God Doing? #25

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

Addressing the postponement of Christ’s flaming return, the Apostle Peter wrote in chapter 3 of his final epistle: “[8] But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” God is not sluggish, undependable, or unconcerned; He is merely giving ample time for people to join His family (become saints) before He judges them for not being in His family (sinners)!

“[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Even Peter confessed that the Apostle Paul had been given Divine instruction found nowhere else in Scripture.

For the last 2,000 years, God has commissioned His people to preach “the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). We find this Gospel of Grace in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. The Lord’s message today to the world—yes, this worthless, godless world—is “grace and peace” not “wrath and war.” “For he [Father God] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (verse 21). We have an opportunity, by faith in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, to avoid God’s wrath. As members of the Body of Christ, we are destined to reign in the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come.

Saints, we have come quite far in our Bible understanding these last 2,800 days. However, we are still not where we should be, so onward we go by God’s grace to #2900! 🙂

What is God Doing? #24

Monday, January 28, 2019

“Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea” (Job 11:7-9 KJV).

What exactly is God doing? Can we say? Or, must we remain clueless?

The Holy Spirit says through the Apostle Peter, “be established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12). What is still holding back God’s fiery wrath from falling on sinful man? The Divine judgment preached long ago was not a “cunningly devised fable” (2 Peter 1:16)—it is real yet delayed. Jesus Christ came back in early Acts, but not in flaming fire taking vengeance on His enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Rather, He poured out grace and mercy on His chief enemy, Saul of Tarsus!

Saul, now Paul the Apostle, writes in 1 Timothy chapter 1: “[15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Even today, this dispensational change works to the sinner’s advantage, that he may trust Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and avoid the wrath to come. Grace will not be offered indefinitely.

Peter continues in chapter 3 of his farewell epistle: “[3] Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, [4] And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. [5] For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: [6] Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: [7] But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men…..”

Now, we finally conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should ‘church’ be changed to ‘called-out assembly’ in Acts 7:38 in the King James Bible?

The Misunderstood Messiah #5

Sunday, December 30, 2018

“Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41 KJV).

Did you ever notice the magnitude of the insult put forth toward Jesus Christ in today’s Scripture?

Once Christ replied with sound doctrine (verses 42-47), Israel’s religious leaders simply resorted to name-calling again (verse 48): “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” A Samaritan was half-Jew/half-Gentile, and “the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Notice Jesus was insulted twice more—they called Him a “Samaritan” and “devil possessed.” Throughout the rest of John chapter 8, Israel’s religious leaders continue arguing with Jesus and nearly stone Him to death (verse 59)!

Why did Jesus not simply “zap” these religionists and instantly throw them into hellfire? They belittled and blasphemed Him several times in this one account, and then attempted to murder Him, but rather than Jesus killing them with His spoken word (which would have been justified), He only conversed with them. Why?

Remember, when the Apostles James and John saw how the Samaritans refused to accommodate Jesus, they asked Him if He wanted them to call down fire from heaven and consume those sinners, He replied, “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (Luke 9:55,56). This First Coming of Christ was His “meek and lowly” coming: He did not come to judge man’s sins, but to die for them!

Even today, God is still not pouring out His wrath on wicked mankind (2 Corinthians 5:19), creatures who still snicker at Jesus Christ, deceive others in His name, persecute His saints, ignore His Word, and “rub His nose” in their sins. Lost mankind is wasting God’s grace and mercy that He is offering so freely. When His grace is finally exhausted, the undiluted wrath that has accumulated will finally be poured out (His Second Coming). May we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour now so we have our sins forgiven now, lest we face that angry, righteous God in judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

For more information, you may also see our archived Bible Q&A: “Did God ‘rape’ Mary?