Sunday, March 18, 2018

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; (2 Timothy 1:7,8 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to preach sound Bible doctrine.

Brethren, Satan has a two-fold strategy for hindering God’s will. In “phase 1,” he attacks the message. Remember, his first words in Scripture are in Genesis 3:1: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Satan’s chief goal is to question (challenge) God’s Word, thus removing it as the authority. After repeatedly distorting the Bible, he outright denied it in verse 4. Satan effectually enticed Adam and Eve to corrupt, and thereby abandon, sound Bible doctrine.

If the saint maintains and defends sound Bible doctrine, not relinquishing it, then Satan begins “phase 2.” Satan’s objective here is to attack the messenger, to somehow silence him—through intimidation, hardship, embarrassment, discouragement, and so on. This is where we find Timothy in today’s Scripture. In 1 Timothy, he had dealt with false teaching in Ephesus. He has remained faithful to the grace message, having not compromised with the legalists. Satan has failed to get Timothy to pervert grace.

Now, in 2 Timothy (today’s Scripture), Timothy’s face is damp with “tears” (verse 4). He is crying, emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed by opposition and distress in the ministry. As Paul writes, pervasive doctrinal error exists now: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (verse 15). Most Christians have now abandoned Paul’s doctrine, preferring legalism and other heresies. Dejected Timothy has surrendered, having ceased (!) preaching Pauline doctrine (verse 6).

Paul, imprisoned far away in Rome for preaching God’s grace through Christ, is moved by the Holy Spirit to encourage Timothy to not be ashamed (today’s Scripture). “Timothy, remember who you are and where you came from. God’s power will get you through your situations. Share in those afflictions that accompany the Gospel! No matter what happens, boldly preach!” (Brethren, may we do likewise.)


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe” (Acts 14:19,20 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be spry.

Unbelieving Jews, who pursued and persecuted Paul as he traveled throughout the Roman Empire, stoned him during his first apostolic journey. Such rocks were not meant to injure but kill! Thus, it is highly likely that Paul not only came close to dying here, but that he actually died! Considering the chronology, Paul seems to be the dead man in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

Paul was persecuted and stoned in a city. They dragged his body out. He then rose up and… left the region? No! He reentered that city! Just think, a dead Christian is raised again and returns to the city where they had just mercilessly flattened him! What would drive a man to go to such extremes? He wanted to share God’s Word yet again. After suffering himself for God, he warned believers: “[21] And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, [22] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

If God’s power could raise this physically dead Christian to keep on going in life and ministry, would He not want us to be functionally alive to continue our life and ministry? How many Christians just sit around doing nothing day in and day out—no witnessing, no Bible study, no good works, no supporting ministries, nothing. “Leave me alone! I am alive in Christ, and I am comfortably dead in conduct!” Oh, dear brethren, this should not be! May it not be true of us… may it never be true of us either!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).


Monday, March 5, 2018

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (1 Peter 3:14-16 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be striking in our handling of suffering.

The Holy Spirit wrote today’s Scripture concerning end-times persecution: Israel’s believing remnant will suffer immensely under the Antichrist. The Lord Jesus commented in Matthew chapter 24: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (verses 9,10). Verse 21 is worse: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since [!!!!] the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [!!!!].”

In the midst of such dreadful torment and slaughter, God the Holy Spirit wants the Little Flock to be “ready always” to have an “answer” (Greek, apologia—a defense, as in apologetics) when someone will ask them for a reason of the hope in them. They are to be salient, prominent, for their endurance. Just what enables them to bear unparalleled pressure from the Adversary (Satan, embodied in the Antichrist)? How can they tolerate all the opposition, resist the majority, challenge this seemingly omnipotent tyrant, and not be crushed internally by hopelessness?

The answer was already provided in chapter 1: “[5] Who are kept [protected] by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [Second Coming] of Jesus Christ:….”

Paul’s epistles provide us our defense!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents:… (Exodus 7:10-12a KJV).

What will happen next?!

Never forget, dear friends, that Satan is the master counterfeiter. Whatever God does, Satan endeavors to copy it as closely as possible. After all, Lucifer’s original goal was to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). In Satan’s policy and plan of evil, he has a wide variety of tools—false brethren, false apostles, false bibles, false prophets, false teaching, false churches, and so on. Overall, Satan seeks worship that God alone deserves (cf. Matthew 4:8-10).

In today’s Scripture, Satan empowered Pharaoh’s magicians to mimic God’s miracle. Moses and Aaron had one rod that turned into one snake. According to 2 Timothy 3:8, there were two magicians—their two rods transformed into two snakes. The LORD God’s snake was outnumbered two to one: Pharaoh thought his gods were superior to Israel’s God. Today’s Scripture continues, but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.” Praise God! 🙂

Going back to 2 Timothy chapter 3: “[8] Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” Paul reaches back into Israel’s history to remind us that false teachers will not continue forever. Today, they still oppose the truth in that they still imitate it, but their foolishness will be exposed one day. Just as Jannes and Jambres were revealed to be no match for the one true God, the false teachers who counterfeit the truth today will be manifested as failures too.

In Christian life and ministry, it seems like we are outnumbered. Less individuals are on our side, but so what! We are on God’s side—with Him, we actually have the majority and (as Moses and Aaron know) we already have the victory!

NOTE: Happy 38th spiritual birthday to my parents, who trusted Jesus Christ alone all those years ago!

Bible Q&A #455: “Was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah inhospitality?

Joy to the World! #4

Thursday, December 14, 2017

“Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:6,7 KJV).

The final verse of the classic Christmas carol highlights today’s Scripture.

“He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.”

When Satan’s reign on Earth and in Heaven concludes, voices in heaven cry out, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). Hebrews 1:8,9 quoted today’s Scripture as true of Jesus Christ’s righteous reign. Notice how Father God addressed Jesus as “God.” Human history has never experienced a global, benevolent, theocratic monarchy. For the first time ever, all power in Heaven and Earth will be consolidated forever in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:8-10). All governments in Heaven and Earth will be cleansed of evil. By faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, we will participate in that operation of God (Colossians 1:16-22). We will reign with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6,7)!

Zechariah 14:9: “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” And, Jeremiah chapter 23: “[5] Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. [6] In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Indeed, there will be such joy! Jesus Christ glorified forever, in Heaven and Earth! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we merely interested in breaking up churches?

The Greatest Veteran

Saturday, November 11, 2017

“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 KJV).

Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, so let us especially thank the “Greatest Veteran of All Time.”

We thank veterans, living and departed, the often-forgotten men and women who risked their lives to secure our freedom. Just as we remember flesh-and-blood veterans who fought for our physical liberty, we reserve our worship and utmost respect for the least esteemed Veteran, He who secured our spiritual liberty.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, we have eternal victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. Everything that God has planned for us is dependent upon Christ’s victory at Calvary.

Jesus Christ nailed the Mosaic Law to His cross (today’s Scripture). His sinless blood covered our failure to obey God’s laws; Jesus’ righteousness annulled our unrighteousness (sin). Christ not only liberated us from sin and its penalty (the everlasting lake of fire), but today’s Scripture affirms He also triumphed over Satan himself!

Christ has “spoiled [destroyed] principalities and powers [Satan’s power], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [His cross].” Jesus Christ destroyed Satan’s plans. Through Christ’s cross, God has “delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), Satan’s evil system of Ephesians 2:1-3.

During a recent cemetery visit, I noticed American flags flying above deceased veterans’ headstones. These individuals can no longer hear or regard our thanks, but Jesus Christ’s body is not decaying in some tomb. If there ever was a Veteran most worthy of our gratitude, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He died in battle, allowing Himself to be executed on a Roman cross of shame and scorn, He resurrected. He is alive and well today, alive forevermore!

Saints, eternity will ring with our thanks to the Veteran worth thanking, the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Adapted from our 2010 Bible study, “The Greatest Hero.” The Bible study video can be viewed here.

The True God Revealed

Monday, July 17, 2017

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 KJV).

Rest—and see the true God manifest!

Today’s Scripture sits in a prophetic psalm. We see God delivering Israel’s believing remnant from her enemies in the final days of the seven-year Tribulation, and God’s wrath manifested in nature: “[1] God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [2] Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; [3] Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.”

We see the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom, Him dwelling with Israel in the land of Palestine: [4] There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. [5] God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”

There is a flashback to Christ’s fiery wrath at His Second Coming: “[6] The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” We see Him on the Earth once more, conquering His enemies and bringing in everlasting peace: “[7] The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. [8] Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. [9] He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.”

Finally, we see Jesus Christ exalted among the nations, proving Himself to be very God and their “gods” but worthless, dead idols. The reader is urged to simply rest and contemplate who is God and who is not: “[10] Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Israel’s believing remnant replies, repeating verse 7 and concluding the psalm: “[11] The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”