Free Thyself from the Yoke of Bondage

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10 KJV).

The “yoke” of today’s Scripture, according to Acts 15:1-5 and Galatians 5:1-4, is the Mosaic Law (physical circumcision and Judaism). In the Old Testament, God commanded the nation Israel to keep His covenant with them and obey the Law of Moses (the “Mitzvot,” the 613 laws of Judaism). What a burden! (They failed, by the way!)

The Mosaic Law was perfect because it was God’s laws: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). If the Law is “good,” how can it be “a yoke of bondage?” Because we sinners are not good. The Law is “weak through [our] flesh” (Romans 8:3). Whether saved or lost, we cannot keep the Law in our own strength.

Throughout Romans chapter 7, Paul, even as a saved man, admits he cannot obey the Mosaic Law. Paul concludes the chapter in defeat (verse 24), “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

God’s purpose in giving Israel the Mosaic Law was to show every human was a sinner, Jew and Gentile (Romans 3:9-20). God has already proven that we cannot measure up to His standard of perfection. Consequently, our performance and our righteousness are not the issue today.

Romans 3:21,22 says, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest… Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon them that believe….” Through Calvary’s cross, God did away with Israel’s performance-based system, and replaced it with our grace system (Romans 6:14,15; Colossians 2:13,14). As long as we Christians are submissive to the Holy Spirit working in us, and not giving heed to our sinful Adamic nature, God will work in us to generate the righteousness that the Law demanded (Romans 8:1-15; Galatians 5:16-26).

The only way to enjoy the grace life is to cast off works-religion and legalism. Cast off the “yoke of bondage!”

The LORD is Exalted Far Above All gods #2

Saturday, January 7, 2012

“For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods” (Psalm 97:9 KJV).

The LORD is “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy” (Isaiah 57:15). “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable… The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:3,8,9).

Our finite human minds struggle to grasp Someone as magnificent and exalted as JEHOVAH our Creator because He differs from what we judge as “normal.” JEHOVAH is transcendent, existing independently of everything. He is everlasting, having neither beginning nor end. The LORD is sinless and holy. We never see Him physically or hear Him audibly. He exists outside of our universe.

Someone whose thoughts astronomically surpass our mental capabilities, whose ways (manners, behavior) are far grander and more complex than our simple activities (Isaiah 55:8,9). A Being who could devise a magnificent plan that would extend into the eons of eternity future, who could speak forth quadrillions of bodies into existence and then arrange them to form intricate systems (Hebrews 11:3), and finally set them into motion for His glory to accomplish that plan (Psalm 19:1)! How can He relate to us scrawny mortals?

Amazingly, JEHOVAH left that glory behind to become one of us! He “humbled Himself” and became “a Man of no reputation” (Philippians 2:5-11). Why? To die and shed His innocent blood for us to receive forgiveness of our sins. Wow… no idol ever did that!

Among the world’s gods, JEHOVAH alone can save you because JEHOVAH alone died to save you! Will you trust in the shed blood and resurrection of JEHOVAH (Jesus Christ), thereby receiving eternal salvation? Please do.

“Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne… confounded be all they that serve graven images [manmade idols], that boast themselves of idols: worship him [JEHOVAH Jesus Christ], all ye gods” (Psalm 97:2,6). Hallelujah! Praise the LORD indeed—He will always be exalted far above all gods!

No Thanks, God! #3

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 KJV).

The Lord has been extremely generous toward mankind, especially during the last 2,000 years (the Dispensation of Grace). Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God offers complete forgiveness and everlasting salvation to anyone who trusts exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour. For 2,000 years, God has offered everyone that “free gift” of salvation in Christ (Romans 3:21-28; Romans 5:15-17; Ephesians 2:8,9; et al.). Mankind was unworthy of that gift before it was offered; how much more are we undeserving now that that gift has been rejected for 20 centuries?

Today, individuals doubt the existence of a loving Creator, in spite of the Bible’s testimony that He exists. After everything that God did to commend His love toward us, sending His Son Jesus Christ to suffer and die for us, many still wonder if God loves them. Sad! What is more disturbing is that even after they discover God’s goodness and grace, many reject Him anyway (today’s Scripture).

Once the Apostle Paul spoke to Judaean governor Felix of “righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” “Felix trembled” (Acts 24:24,25). Lost Felix feared, especially that “judgment to come.” Nevertheless, Felix hardened his heart, and replied, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” “Go away, Paul; come back later!” Lost mankind is still equally arrogant.

“God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7): whether in this life, or in the next, God will exact retribution to Christ-rejecters. Imagine the horror lost people experience after physical death. Conscience of their arrival in the flames of hell, they recall their refusal of the Gospel of the Grace of God. Salvation was so simple, but now, God has retracted that offer of salvation. Now only “the judgment” remains (Hebrews 9:27). The words, “No thanks, God!,” haunting them for eternity….

Do not toss away the gift of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Accept that gift by faith and escape that wrath to come!

No Thanks, God! #1

Monday, December 26, 2011

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 KJV).

As the Christmas Season wanes, unwanted gifts that cannot be refunded are being discarded. Imagine all the time, money, and energy spent purchasing those gifts for their ungrateful recipients. There is a worse tragedy! We, sinful humanity, deserve coal, the riches of God’s wrath (Romans 2:5,6,8,9); thankfully, we have been given the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7). Predictably, there are unappreciative individuals who have already eagerly tossed out something worth far more than material possessions—God’s grace.

A noted outspoken atheist, who recently “met his Maker,” described prayer as “meaningless.” During his last year alive, even while cancer-stricken, he had a hardened heart toward God. As far as I know, he died without Jesus Christ. That man, like billions of others before, beheld God’s grace, and haughtily declared, “No thanks! I do not need You, God!” Today’s Scripture describes the attitude of most people: “[They] despise [hate!] the riches of [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering.” Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for them and God’s love and grace are worthless to them.

In Israel’s program under the Mosaic Law, God utterly destroyed such people. But, for nearly 2,000 years, God’s wrath has been in abeyance. Today, in our Dispensation of Grace, God is “not imputing the world’s trespasses unto it” (2 Corinthians 5:18,19). That will change…

Once our dispensation (time period) expires, during Daniel’s 70th week, the seven-year Tribulation, God will righteously judge this rebellious world in His wrath (Psalm 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; et al.). God will finally retaliate and take vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The antichrist will deceive those who received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Do not toss away the gift of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. Accept that gift by faith and escape that wrath to come!

…But We Have Been Given God’s Grace

Sunday, December 25, 2011

“In whom [the Lord Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7 KJV).

In yesterday’s devotional, we learned how we, the sinful human race, are worthy of our holy Creator God’s wrath. God has created a special place, hell, for Satan and those who follow his sinful rebellion against God (Matthew 25:41). The simple truth is that, because of our sinful nature (and the resulting sinful actions), we all deserve to go to hell, and ultimately, separated from God forever in the lake of fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 20:14,15; Revelation 21:8; et al.).

“But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20b). God, in His grace, dealt with our sin at Calvary’s cross, and took it out of the way. Through the finished crosswork of God incarnate, Jesus Christ, the riches of God’s grace are manifest. God left heaven’s glory to live in a human body, to “humble himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”(Philippians 2:5-8). Why?

  • To commend God’s love toward us (Romans 5:8).
  • To die, not simply for us, but as us (Romans 6:3-9; Colossians 2:11-15).
  • To undo the damage caused by sinful Adam (Romans 5:12-21; Colossians 1:20-21).
  • To “put away [our] sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
  • To deliver us from Satan’s policy of evil, and make us sinners saints (Colossians 1:12-14).
  • To give us everlasting life…His life (Galatians 2:20) and thus, do for us what we could not do for ourselves—accomplish our salvation from the second death (spiritual death) (Ephesians 2:1-9)!
  • To give us “peace with God” (Romans 5:1).

Today, God is not imputing the world’s sin unto it (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Everyone, regardless of religion, race, or social standing, can now receive forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ. All they have to do is place their faith in the Gospel of Grace as found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4—“that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised again for our justification!”

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM arC MINISTRIES!

*This is excerpted from a larger Bible study titled “Emmanuel 2.” The Bible study can be read here and watched here.

We All Deserve Lumps of Coal…

Saturday, December 24, 2011

“[God] Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;” (Romans 2:6,8,9 KJV).

Christmas folklore teaches that naughty children receive lumps of coal in their stockings. (Of course, we know parents just use this as an incentive to persuade their children to behave properly.) Actually, throughout the year, the parents have been just as naughty as their kids: All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)—no exceptions!

The heart of man is evil (Jeremiah 17:9): “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Our Lord Jesus declared: “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23).

Galatians 5:19-21 further exposes mankind’s heart: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Psalm 14:2,3 reads: “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:3).

Can the Bible be any clearer? Because of Adam, we are all inherent sinners (Romans 5:12). As today’s Scripture says, we sinners are deserving of God’s wrath. We all deserve lumps of coal. However, there is Good News….

The Expensive Getaway

Thursday, December 15, 2011

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 KJV).

We often hear of exotic getaways like Fiji, the Caribbean Islands, and Hawaii. While these vacations are pricey, they are ridiculously cheap when compared to heaven, “the expensive getaway.”

“[God] will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:6,7). God will give eternal life to any individual who has perfect righteousness. He demands 100 percent perfectioneven 99.999 percent righteousness is far too less for God to accept.

The price to enter heaven’s glory is far too expensive for us. We all have a few “good” works here and there… mere pocket change! By nature, we are spiritually poor, bankrupt of righteousness. We have all offended God: All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our lives are filled with many sinful acts, including hatred, lying, gossiping, cursing, and coveting. These sins offend God’s righteousness, so what will you do with them?

Today’s Scripture gives us the Good News. At Calvary’s cross, God fully and completely dealt with our unrighteousness. Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, died for your sins, to give His life so you could have an opportunity to be made righteous in Him! King David wrote: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

When we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, God “imputes” (applies) His righteousness to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). As today’s Scripture says, in Christ, we are rich indeed: we are spiritually rich because Jesus Christ accomplished our salvation. In Christ Jesus, we are justified, made perfect in God the Father’s sight, thus able to enter heaven (Romans 3:21-31).

One day, at the rapture, we Christians will take our expensive getaway. Are you ready for the vacation of a lifetime? Saints, our flight is coming! Stay tuned…. 🙂