The Heavenly Places #5

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV).

Why does Ephesians conclude with this description of the war between good and evil?

It is not until we come to Paul’s ministry do we learn how God will cleanse the heavenly places. Ephesians highlights our eternal destiny as members of the Church the Body of Christ. Just as Father God will use Israel to accomplish His will in the Earth, so He will use us to achieve His will in the Heavens. He will exalt His Son, Jesus Christ, in both realms. Ephesians chapter 1: “[9] [Father God] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance….”

One day, brethren, we will be displayed for all of the universe to see. All creatures will witness God’s wisdom fully manifested in outer space. We will participate in Jesus Christ’s exaltation in the heavenly places throughout eternity future. Ephesians chapter 2 declares: “[6] And [God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

As good as this all is, however, we are not there yet. The heavenly places are still so far away! Howbeit, one day, Jesus Christ will return to Earth—at the Rapture—to take His Body (us) beyond the sky. Until we get there, though, we are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Knowing full well that we will replace him and his minions in the heavenly places, he fights us every chance he gets. We had better don all the armor of God, beloved, that “we stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-20)! 🙂

 

The Greatest War Hero

Monday, May 29, 2017

“For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 KJV).

In the United States, today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who sacrificed their time and lives to provide our physical freedom. Likewise, as Christians, we have spiritual freedom, which was more costly. Someone had to die to give us the eternal life we now enjoy….

Scripture describes a spiritual warfare between good and evil, God’s truth program versus Satan’s lie program: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11,12; see also verses 13-20).

Satan distracts mankind from God’s pure Word, the Bible, keeping unbelievers lost (dead in their sins), and preventing unbelievers and Christians from knowing God’s will. The devil draws them away (seduces them) from God’s Word by using religious tradition and human “wisdom” (1 Timothy 4:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Galatians 3:1-3).

God loves us, so at Calvary’s cross, Christ fought for us sinners, died in battle (today’s Scripture), shed His divine sinless blood, and eternally rescued us from Satan and sin: “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).

Hebrews 9:12 says Jesus Christ has “obtained eternal redemption for us.”

If we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). Now, God can use us for His glory for all eternity.

Beloved, let us rejoice in our victory over sin, death, and hell that Jesus Christ secured for us by going to Calvary’s rugged cross! Jesus Christ is now alive forevermore—He is our Hero, the Greatest Hero!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study “The Greatest Hero,” which can be read here or watched here.

The Comforter and Teacher

Sunday, May 28, 2017

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26 KJV).

The Holy Bible is a progressive revelation: God gradually made known His Word to mankind throughout history. He knew the end from the beginning, but He chose not to tell the end at the beginning. As the end came closer, it became clearer. Here, we see the “New Testament” Scriptures predicted—God the Holy Spirit’s method of comforting, coming alongside to aid and strengthen, God’s people.

When God the Father sent the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2, the Spirit caused Israel’s believing remnant—especially the 12 Apostles—to remember everything that Jesus taught them during the previous three years (His earthly ministry). See today’s Scripture. They did not have to rely on fallible human memory; they had the omniscient, omnipotent Holy Ghost guiding their minds and hearts, giving them the final pieces of information needed to understand their prophetic program.

The early Acts period (chapters 1-7) and the Bible Books of Hebrews through Revelation provide details not found in Genesis through Malachi and Matthew through John. The Lord Jesus predicted in today’s Scripture that Israel’s Little Flock would receive the capstone of knowledge as touching the prophetic program. They would see how everything fit together so beautifully, and they would be able to appreciate what God had planned in eternity past. Despite everything that Satan and evil men would do to sabotage God’s plan for the Earth, they would be unable to overcome Him.

Compare today’s Scripture to what Jesus spoke later, John 16:12-14: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. [14] He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” In our Bible, inspired and preserved by the Holy Spirit, we see the result of the prophetic program too!

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 14, 2017

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 29 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol and emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO OUR READERS WHO ARE MOTHERS!

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

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

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

Be Wise, Beloved

Thursday, March 16, 2017

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

My brethren, be very careful!

Saints, it has come to my attention these last few weeks that a certain “fad” belief is circulating throughout online “Christian” groups. An ancient and controversial discussion of science and Scripture, it has seen resurgence on social media and video-sharing websites. While I in this study purposely withhold that issue’s name, an article dealing with it is currently being prepared and will be released (hopefully) in the near future. (As a scientist, I cannot resist remarking extensively on this most serious matter!)

What concerns me most is that professing Christians—some no doubt are genuine Christians—are reposting and sharing information without being Bereans. Instead of researching and using critical thinking, they are caught up in a mad frenzy of exposing “conspiracies.” Sadly, in their zeal, they have made God’s Word vulnerable to scoffing by the lost world that is witnessing their statements and actions. As with any denominational system or theological speculation, they are so totally twisting the Bible text out of shape to fit their view. People who do not even believe the Bible are correcting Christians for misrepresenting clear Bible verses! What started off as good intentions is now an all-out war against the Scriptures—a conflict led by “Christians!!”

Today’s Scripture could not be clearer. We must use our time “wisely.” Once we become sidetracked by all sorts of wild ideas, stirred up in our emotions and hasty in our actions and words, we run the risk of not only making fools out of ourselves. No, we make our dear Lord Jesus Christ look foolish! Our Saviour is not foolish, so neither should we be. We must stay in God’s Word, and be very careful that our words and actions cause those around us to hear and see the plain truths of that Word. It is unwise to carelessly circulate information without investigating it for ourselves. If ever we are hasty in spreading false information, we will not need to wonder why no one cares to hear us talk about “God’s truth.”

Household Rules #15

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Colossians 1:25 KJV).

And, just what is this “dispensation of God which is given to [Paul] for [us]?”

With the Lord Jesus Christ directly revealing to Paul the Dispensation of Grace of God, we have a completed Bible. Hence, Paul wrote in his final epistle: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Apostle Peter preached in Acts 3:21 about that “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” In stark contrast, the Apostle Paul had a ministry concerned about “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest” (Romans 16:25,26). These are two totally different dispensations, never to be confused unless we want to be confused. God kept a secret, but He revealed it directly and exclusively to Paul. Without Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon, we lose the “household rules” God withheld from other Bible writers and holy men of old.

We see Paul as God’s spokesman to us—not Jesus in His earthly ministry, Peter, Moses, John the Baptist, and so on. We realize Jesus Christ exalted in Heaven (Paul’s ministry), not just on Earth (rest of Scripture). We know we are under Grace (Paul’s ministry), not under Law (rest of Scripture). We see the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins—as our way to a right standing before God (Paul’s ministry), not other Gospel messages (rest of Scripture). We recognize our completeness in Christ (Paul’s ministry), not needing rites and rituals and ceremonies to make God happy with us (rest of Scripture). We see ourselves as the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry), not the nation Israel (rest of Scripture). We recognize the difference between mystery (Paul’s ministry) and prophecy (rest of Scripture).

If we are to know God’s will for us today, we had better pay attention to His current “household rules”—Paul’s ministry and writings! 🙂

-FINIS-