Joy to the World! #2

Thursday, December 12, 2019

“Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity” (Psalm 98:5-9 KJV).

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

“Joy to the earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.”

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world, and death by sin (Romans 5:12), plunging creation into suffering. What God had intended to last forever was now languishing away and dying off! “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit…” (Romans 8:22,23).

We humans, pinnacles of God’s creatures, are so ungrateful to our Creator. Even in such a fallen state, our universe is amazingly complex and it is a miracle it even functions at all with its abounding impediments! Rather than praising our Creator for giving us life, we complain about our “problems” and then write books, display billboards, and give lectures about His “non-existence.” We mock His name, laugh at His Bible, stick out our tongues at Him, and wag our fingers in His face. Newsflash—God will not tolerate that forever!

In His own time, Almighty God will make all things right. That means getting rid of that which (and who) is wrong/evil. As 1 Timothy 6:14,15 say: “…the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” No matter what mankind does—cooperate with Him by faith, or protest by throwing a tantrum in unbelief—God has already determined what He is going to do. Jesus Christ, whether people like it or not, will be King over all creation!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #3

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13,14 KJV).

The fifth verse and the final verse of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“Thus spake the angel and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, and thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease.’”

People who know nothing about the Bible carelessly complain that the God of the Old Testament was a “bigot.” They dislike that He dealt almost exclusively with Israel, having almost no dealings with Gentiles. Additionally, they whine that Jesus was a “racist” because He said that His earthly ministry was limited to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24). What fools and blasphemers!

When JEHOVAH promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, that nation was to be the channel of God’s salvation and blessing to reach all the world’s (Gentile) nations. “…[I]n thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Rebuking ignorant Nicodemus, Jesus said of Israel’s earthly kingdom: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus also said, “…[R]epentance and remission of sins should be preached in [my] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). He told His apostles to baptize and teach all nations(Matthew 28:19). God was dealing with and converting Israel, that redeemed Israel go to all nations on His behalf when Jesus became their King!!! Read Zechariah 8:20-23 and Isaiah 60:1-3 (yet future).

Hence, the angels sang at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” God wanted everyone“good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (verse 10)—to have a relationship with Him in Israel’s kingdom. Of course, Israel’s kingdom is still future. Romans 11:11-13 says salvation is coming to us Gentiles without Israel, through Paul’s ministry and Paul’s Gospel (Christ’s finished crosswork).

NOTE: I want to say a special “Happy Birthday” to my Mom, who will no doubt read this. Thank you for being faithful to Father God in leading me to Jesus Christ and teaching me the Scriptures all those years ago! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What are ‘swaddling’ clothes?

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #2

Monday, December 9, 2019

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11,12 KJV).

The third and fourth verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“‘To you, in David’s town, this day,
Is born of David’s line
A Savior, who is Christ the Lord;
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.
The heavenly Babe you there shall find
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swaddling-clothes
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.’”

Bethlehem-Judah—not to be confused with the Bethlehem of northern Israel—was known for being King David’s birthplace (1 Samuel 16:18). It was also where his great-grandmother Ruth had lived (Ruth 1:19). But, Bethlehem-Judah (or Bethlehem-Ephratah, or Bethlehem-Judaea) was no Jerusalem, or Rome, or Alexandria, major cities at that time. Nevertheless, the shadows/types/previews were present.

Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12-16). He is the Son of David who can accomplish the governmental part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Reading from Luke chapter 1: “[31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: [33] And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” God had His Son born in Bethlehem of Judah, the same place where King David was born 1,000 years earlier!

The angel said it was easy for the shepherds to find Baby Jesus. There was only one Bethlehem-Judah, and there was only one manger in that little town that held a little Baby tightly wrapped in clothes. That little Baby would grow up to be a Man, mature and thus fully able to reign from David’s throne. No wonder the angels proceeded to sing such wonderful news!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #1

Sunday, December 8, 2019

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:8-10 KJV).

The first and second verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.’”

Due to the decree of some pagan Roman emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary traveled some 70 miles (113 kilometers), from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah (Luke 2:1-7)! There, in little Bethlehem—a humble town rather than a magnificent world city—Israel’s King, yea the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born. Micah 5:2, written some 700 years earlier, was perfectly fulfilled: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Note that our King James Bible says Jesus Christ is “from everlasting,” demonstrating His deity. Modern versions water this down, saying “from ancient times/days.” Blasphemy!)

Not far from where Jesus was born and laid in the manger, shepherds were out that night guarding their flocks. (See, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in wintertime. There is additional Scriptural evidence that it was early fall, very late September or very early October.) The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. Angels appearing to Israel was usually some sign of judgment (see 2 Samuel 24:15-17, for example). When the shepherds of today’s Scripture saw the angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were very fearful.

The angel reassured them with such wonderful news!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Exactly what is ‘eternal life?’

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Saturday, December 7, 2019

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 KJV).

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

“Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!”

Religion has done an excellent job (wrongly) teaching us that God likes to rehabilitate humans—that He wants to make us quit doing certain things (“fleshly”) and make us start doing other things (“churchy”). What a very shallow, and actually a false, perception. God wants to do much more than what we could ever do by ourselves.

For good works to reign in our lives, God has to kill us! As sinners, in Adam, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, no life in ourselves (see today’s Scripture). Nothing we can do in our own strength will ever change our (sinful) nature in Adam. However, God offers us death to Adam and a new identity through Christ at Calvary. When we trust that Jesus Christ died for our sins, in God’s mind, we died to sin, too. Christ did not simply die for us but as us. Romans chapters 5 through 8 describe the victory is in Christ, not in Adam or in ourselves. Success is by the power of the Holy Ghost working with the grace doctrines we study and believe, not in our struggles to do right. And so, “Christ [is] formed in [us]” (Galatians 4:19).

Something about which the angels cannot sing, but we can, should, and do! 🙂

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #4

Friday, December 6, 2019

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:8-11 KJV).

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

“Come, Desire of nations come
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Angels can sing about God’s operations, but, unlike us humans, they cannot sing about salvation in Jesus Christ. When we read today’s Scripture, there should be leaping for joy! The God of creation, the God of the Holy Bible, the God of Christianity, has attempted to mend the broken relationship between Him and us. He has done everything to save us from our sinful selves and our utter foolishness. He can do no more than Calvary. Those merits of Christ’s finished crosswork cannot benefit us individually unless we individually appropriate them by faith. There is no merit in our faith, but there is immeasurable merit in what Jesus Christ did. We either agree with God by faith that Calvary’s finished crosswork is enough, or we ignore it and continue on our way to eternal hellfire. Simple indeed!

Reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Do we agree with God by faith?

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should we pray to ‘bind evil spirits?’

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #3

Thursday, December 5, 2019

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 KJV).

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

“Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them spiritual birth.
Risen with healing in his wings,
Light and life to all he brings,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Hail, the heaven-born Prince of Peace!”

Jesus Christ was literally the perfect example of living in fellowship with Father God. He did not make Himself the issue but rather glorified His Father who had sent Him. Yea, He said to His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). What was Father God’s will? Check Hebrews 10:1-10. It was for Jesus to become a human that that human body die on that awful cross for our sins!

As our King James Bible says, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Modern versions so butcher this passage, saying Jesus Christ “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing.” Blasphemy!)

The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ died. That man may die and live through Him, Jesus Christ resurrected. There is no greater name than the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10)! Friends, let us join the angels in praising Him!