Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Spirituality or Futility? #7

Thursday, November 9, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Dear friend, a sure way to engage in futility is to reach back into previous dispensations and/or reach forward into future dispensations, and force those verses on us today. To use Bible verses God once applied before our dispensation, or to follow Scriptures God will apply after our dispensation, is to fall prey to Satan’s “wiles” or deceitful strategies (Ephesians 6:11). If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, such Bible mishandling frustrates or hinders God’s plans for your Christian life! If you have not trusted Christ, such Bible misusage hides from you God’s current Gospel message! Christians remain confused and defeated; lost people stay unsaved and Hell-bound!

Satan would never discourage us from quoting Bible verses because he did it in Matthew 4:6. Yea, he used Scripture… but did not handle it dispensationally. As long as God’s Word is not “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15), it furthers Satan’s agenda most ingeniously (without suspicion!). “We are in God’s will because we are Scriptural. Satan cannot deceive us.” Of course, to not use the Scriptures God’s way is to, by default, achieve Satan’s goal!

God is not currently forming an earthly people—the nation Israel. There is no water baptism and no tithing (mandatory giving) today. God is not telling us to confess our sins, follow the Mosaic Law, keep the Sabbath, offer blood sacrifices for our sins, sell everything we have and give to the poor, drink poison, heal the sick, raise the dead, look for “signs,” build an ark, and so on. God told other people in other dispensations to pursue and do those things, but He did not tell the Apostle Paul to instruct us concerning them. What futility to try to make God do something He is not doing today! If we will know what He is doing today, and will do His will today, we heed the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Spirituality or Futility? #6

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

One can be “Scriptural” and still be completely outside of God’s will. We must be Scriptural and dispensational, aware of God’s current program. Yea, we should always respect a Bible verse’s dispensational context before we try to apply it to ourselves.

Notice Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:….” With national Israel temporarily fallen, the ascended Lord Jesus Christ sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles with a special dispensation (or set of instructions for our faith and obedience).

Ephesians chapter 3: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;….”

What Paul wrote in Romans through Philemon was not made known in Genesis through Malachi, Jesus’ earthly ministry (Matthew through John), or early Acts. Therefore, to constantly emphasize the non-Pauline Bible Books to the extent of diminishing the Pauline Books is to ignore a secret God was deliberately withholding at that time. Now that He has revealed that secret through Paul, ignoring Paul is to be completely ignorant of God’s current operations….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Philippians 2:14-16?

Answers in Scripture

Friday, August 25, 2017

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5 KJV).

Are you lacking wisdom, friend? Why not “ask of God?”

Not long ago, Mom and I visited a nearly 96-year-old relative. For a few years now, my parents and I have tried to keep Scriptural dialog open with her. While she is still content in being bound in her works-religion, Mom told me the woman seemed more receptive to truth than usual. She heard the Gospel of the Grace of God many times again during our most recent visit. We tried to emphasize to her that all the “crazy” things happening in the world are the result of sin and that Jesus Christ died to save us from such depravity. She learned once again that the Holy Bible is a beacon of light in this world of darkness, and a solid foundation in this world of uncertainty. Her religion is powerless to help her, educate her, or comfort her in such troubling times.

Another point I stressed with this dear lady is the fact that people are groping around, looking for answers, but apart from God. Notice how the Holy Spirit through James in today’s Scripture encouraged people to consult God when they wanted wisdom. True, the Bible was not yet complete at that time (James was perhaps the earliest “New Testament” Book written); hence, that partially-revealed Word of God left people with various unanswered spiritual questions. Even so, God did not discourage anyone from seeking His truth. He was willing to provide more information if they wanted it!

Many years after James, Paul wrote in the final Bible Book: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17). With the Pauline revelations exposed and written down, everything that God wants man to know and do, we find it in the completed Bible. Thus, the way we “ask” God for wisdom today is to submit to His written words, Holy Scripture. If we are in spiritual darkness, God is not to blame!

#Eclipse2017

Sunday, August 20, 2017

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3,4 KJV).

Tomorrow, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Northwestern America saw something like this 40 years ago. The last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in North America was nearly a century ago. This once-in-a-lifetime event affords us an exciting chance to appreciate God’s universe!

The Sun, 400 times larger than the Moon, is also 400 times farther away from Earth than the Moon. Hence, from our Earth-based vantage point, the Sun and the Moon appear to be the same size. While some call this an “incredible coincidence,” we as Bible-believing creationists know God has constructed His universe with meticulous thought.

Tomorrow, between mid-morning and early afternoon (United States time zones), the Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth. It will seem to be dusk—daylight will briefly turn to “nighttime.” As one scientist summarizes, “The brilliant Sun is replaced by a black orb surrounded by a ghostly halo.” There will appear a “hole in the sky.” The glowing halo that will encircle the Moon is the corona, the Sun’s rarely-seen outer atmosphere.

Depending on the location on the North American continent, a total or partial eclipse will be seen. The Moon’s “umbral shadow” will fall on Earth’s surface, tracing a narrow band northwest to southeast. A total solar eclipse will be visible in those specific cities. The Moon’s much larger “penumbral shadow,” northeast and southwest of the umbral shadow, will make a partial eclipse visible to most. Remember, if you are in the path of total or partial eclipse, you need specially certified glasses—regular sunglasses will not do! Without this protection, permanent blindness can result if you stare at the Sun (even if it is partially eclipsed)!

By the way, what message will God be communicating to us through this solar eclipse? Absolutely nothing, friend! If you want a “message from God,” go read the Bible. Start in the Book of Romans! Enjoy the Book today and the solar eclipse tomorrow! 🙂

See NASA’s website for more information, and a live video stream of the total solar eclipse: https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive-info.

Just As I Am #6

Monday, July 24, 2017

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the sixth and final verse of Charlotte Elliott’s 1835 hymn, “Just As I Am.”

“Just as I am, Thy love unknown,
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

We receive the indwelling Holy Spirit after we hear and believe the Gospel of Grace, as Ephesians chapter 1 says: “[13] In whom [Christ Jesus] ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Contrary to popular belief, everyone is not God’s child. For example, in John 8:44, the Lord Jesus uttered one of the harshest censures in all of Scripture, aimed at unsaved religious leaders: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do….” Ephesians 2:2-3 calls non-Christians “children of disobedience” and “children of wrath!” Today’s Scripture says we are God’s children by faith in Jesus Christ. We are not born into God’s family at physical conception or at physical birth. Scripture says we are born into God’s family—namely the Church the Body of Christ—when we place our trust solely in Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour. But, never forget: it took God to put that system into place. No man dreamed it up. It was God’s invention.

Had Father God not made the first move by sending Jesus Christ, mankind would have never approached God. What sinner would have ever asked God to die for his or her sins? Who would have ever expected Him to do just that? Mankind would have been too prideful to ask anyway. Indeed, friends, it was a mighty gulf that God did span on that awful Roman cross on Calvary! That God would go through that much trouble to save such wretched creatures, this is something we will ever fathom. It is simply too far beyond us! All we can say is, “Thank You, Lord, I come and receive You!” 🙂

Our latest two Bible Q&As: “Who are ‘the poor’ in Galatians 2:10?” and “Who are ‘the fatherless and widows’ of James 1:27?

Just As I Am #5

Sunday, July 23, 2017

“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1 Timothy 4:10 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the fifth verse of Charlotte Elliott’s 1835 hymn, “Just As I Am.”

“Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!”

Habakkuk 1:13 says of God: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity….” Almighty God is so holy that He cannot even look upon sin. Yet, Scripture speaks about some sinners going to God’s Heaven rather than Satan’s Hell. How is that possible? How can God be just in saving us sinners from our deserved ill fate? Does not His justice demand the punishment of those who offend His righteousness?

Today’s Scripture says “the living God… is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” How can these believing sinners escape their deserved eternal doom? Romans chapter 3: “[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Father God made His Son, Jesus Christ, a “propitiation,” a fully satisfying payment for sin. Through that substitutionary death—Jesus Christ suffering God’s wrath and dying in our place—God can spare us our eternal death penalty of sin. We simply trust that good news to benefit from it! Father God promises to take, receive, welcome, cleanse, and relieve the believing sinner. Make no mistake, dear friends—Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork is truly the sinner’s only hope!