Who is Our Apostle? #4

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13 KJV).

Behold, the verse that most have never noticed in the Bible!

Notice today’s Scripture in context: “[11] I say then, Have they 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: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Scripture is clear that Paul’s Gentile apostleship is exalted while the nation Israel is fallen. There is no “kingdom of priests”—converted Israel—preaching salvation among the Gentiles in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God. Rather, the Holy Spirit is using the Apostle Paul to reach the Gentiles. Clearly, the prophetic program that operated prior to Paul (pre-Acts chapter 9) has been temporarily interrupted. To see Israel functioning as a kingdom of priests after our dispensation, we can look at Zechariah 8:20-23, Isaiah 60:1-3, and Isaiah 61:6. In the meantime, we know that the mystery program is operating—the Church the Body of Christ is being formed using believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

Notice 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; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”

Certainly, Paul’s ministry and message are unique….

Lingering Lot

Saturday, June 24, 2017

“And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city” (Genesis 19:15,16 KJV).

In “lingering Lot,” we see many a Christian today!

Nephew to Abraham, Lot was a very compromising believer. While the world’s sins bothered him (2 Peter 2:6-9), he did not mind dabbling in them himself. For example, Lot “sat in the gate of Sodom” (Genesis 19:1): he was an important statesman in that most wicked city, enjoying high social standing and great wealth. Once God had enough of the homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah, He sent two angels to destroy them (see Genesis 18:16-22; Genesis 19:1ff.).

God also sent those angels to deliver Lot and his family before His righteous wrath falls upon Sodom and Gomorrah. In today’s Scripture, the angels urge Lot to hurry and take his wife and two daughters and escape. Three words stand out: “and while he lingered….” Lot wanted to stay just a bit longer, to take one last look at all his possessions he had acquired while officiating over Sodom. His beautiful home and its furnishings would be destroyed. His sinful acquaintances would be killed. (Notice how his wife “looked back behind him” once they did leave in verse 26, and she “became a pillar of salt!” She too had been attached to the material goods she and Lot had.)

Lot should have led his family out of such wickedness, yet he “lingered.” The angels had to thus forcefully grab all four of them (he, his wife, and their two daughters) and bring them outside the city! JEHOVAH God could have consumed Lot for being so wicked, so idolatrous, and yet He was “merciful unto him.” No doubt, many such saints will want to “linger” at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take all Christians to Heaven, desiring to stay behind and enjoy this evil world one last time. May we not be those “lingering” believers!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about blood transfusions?

Father: A Godly Man

Sunday, June 18, 2017

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 KJV).

Since today is Father’s Day, we dedicate today’s devotional to the godly (Christian) fathers.

What is a godly father? Oftentimes, fathers are either too authoritative (very strict) or too carefree (little to no concern for their children). According to the Bible (today’s Scripture in particular), fathers must have a balance between setting boundaries and enforcing them, and refraining from being a heartless tyrant.

  • On one hand, the Christian father is to “bring [his children] up in the nurture of the Lord.” “Nurture” is simply defined as “caring for and encouraging their growth or development.” All too often, fathers (sadly) ignore this, usually being too rough, or even, apathetic (unconcerned).
  • On the other hand, the Christian father is to “bring [his children] up in the admonition of the Lord.” “Admonition” is simply defined as “authoritative counsel or warning.” He is to lovingly guide them in life, instructing them from God’s Word rightly divided.

A father is not simply one who procreates. God’s Word makes it very clear that they should serve a lifelong, active role in their children’s lives. A Christian man, especially a father, should be a godly man in beliefs as well as in deed. He needs to set an example for his children (especially his sons): it is his duty as an older Christian man to set an example for younger men.

He should be a hard worker, he should meditate on the things of God (the Bible), his speech should conform to sound Bible doctrine, he should be hospitable and caring, kind and loving, he should respect and love his wife, he should love his children, and he should be reserved and cautious in his actions.

Are you a Christian man or Christian father who desires to be the man God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest! Then, you will become the godly man described on the pages of Scripture.

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

No Sunday Morning Second-hand Sermons!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Rather than “second-hand” sermons, we need “study” sermons!

Long ago, a minister wrote the following: “Many sermons on Sunday morning are second-hand sermons, copied from some outline book published by the denominational headquarters… and that ought not be! Studying is hard work—but it is profitable in the ministry!” In this day and age, I wonder how sermons delivered from the pulpit are first downloaded from the internet?

Please do not misunderstand, friends. There is nothing wrong with consulting sources for Bible insight. We can all learn from teachers and preachers. However, there is a difference between using these sources and abusing them. Copying sermons verbatim is not ideal for two reasons. Firstly, the person copying is robbing himself of personal Bible study—not to mention running the risk of being greatly deceived! Secondly, those who will listen to the copied sermon will also be robbed of personal Bible study—to be deceived as well! The audience will figure that they can let the writer do all the hard work (studying) and they will simply (and easily) listen to the fruit.

The reason why denominational headquarters are followed so meticulously is that people fear displeasing men. They dread upsetting the denominational leaders, for they just may be “out-of-work” and “out-of-church” if they drift too far from “approved” verses and teachings! Today’s Scripture says that we are to be “approved unto God;” beloved, we are not to be “menpleasers.” Remember, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).

We are looking for God’s approval, not man’s approval. The quicker we learn that, the more joyous we will be in the ministry. We will not be disappointed when people disapprove of us, for we were never looking for their approval anyway! “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God(1 Corinthians 4:5).

Not Entangled

Friday, June 16, 2017

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (2 Timothy 2:4 KJV).

Before you get too worked up about this world’s conditions, remember not to get distracted from what really matters!

Recently, I was talking with a brother in Christ who was very disturbed by what is going on in the world. In his own words, his “blood was boiling.” He was angry, raging, quite frustrated over corrupt politicians, violence, and evildoers going unpunished. Moreover, he ranted and raved against his national government. While I understand his frustrations, I did politely remind him to be civil when he would discuss it with others (he said he was going to tell others what he had told me). The man has been saved for years, many decades, but God’s grace has yet to transform the way he thinks about this world.

As “outposts from the third heaven,” beloved, we simply cannot get too attached to the people and things of this temporary world. We can get all worked up about scandals and conundrums in politics, religion, economics, sports, educational institutions, social issues, and so on. It is only human to get so enmeshed, trapped, involved, entwined with human affairs. However, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are God’s people. We are to be concentrating on God’s thoughts instead of common human thoughts. Father God is not worrying or fretting in Heaven today, and if anyone should concerned, it should be the Person who can control it.

Dear friends, we must never let Satan’s evil world system distract us from what really matters. Those “doctrines of devils” can come in the subtlest forms, and we must be vigilant that they do not get a stronghold in our thoughts. As soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must concentrate on our “marching orders,” and those instructions are: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection [focus] on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Bible Q&A #390: “Does Acts 26:22 disprove the Apostle Paul’s special doctrine?

Merciful to a Sorry World

Thursday, June 15, 2017

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Timothy 1:15,16 KJV).

You can trust that!

The United States—yea, the world—has been rocked by so many tragedies in recent days. Current trends on social media read, “Sending our thoughts and prayers.” Scoffers ask, “How is that working out?” To wit, despite all the “thoughts and prayers,” well wishes, and hopes of religious people, violence and bloodshed remain “front page” news. Where is God? When will He get enough? Will He ever show Himself? Does He even care? When will enough be enough? Is “He” even there?

Christians, who have the Holy Bible, the true Word of the true God, should be leading the world in understanding prayer. They should know what prayer is, and what it is not. Alas, how ignorant they are—how unbelievably and pathetically uniformed! They have the Scriptures but have no idea what they say about prayer. Now we see why skeptics say what they do—they mock people who really do not know the truth either! Beloved, religious people talk about “God” so flippantly we need not criticize the scoffers for doing likewise!

Friends, here is the simple truth. God is not working according to the way most people are praying. Hence, people pray for a certain outcome that actually does not come. They pray for violence to end, for peace, for God to come and judge the evildoers. Actually, here is a shocker…. God is not working today as He did in time past. What He is interested in today is having people come to His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith, that they receive forgiveness of sins and a home in Heaven. Rather than God pouring out wrath today, ushering in world peace today, He is pouring out peace and grace on undeserving sinners!

He will come back in due time and judge this wicked world. Today, He silently offers grace, extending an opportunity for all to be made right with Him! 🙂

Not Mixed With Faith

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2 KJV).

We can read and memorize all the verses we want, but, if we are not approaching Bible verses in faith, we will not gain the profit God put in them.

I had a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ who is in the ministry. He is dealing with an individual who jumps from religious group to religious group (five or six current affiliations). This man, whether saved or not I am unsure, constantly asks the brother various Bible questions. How sad it is that people can ask so many questions and still be so ill equipped, unable to distinguish truth from error. Yea, treating the Bible like some “intellectual gym class” will severely harm rather than greatly help!

Take, for example, the nation Israel in the wilderness (Hebrews chapter 3— previous to today’s Scripture). They heard the voice of God thundering from Mount Sinai. They saw the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. Unlike the pagan nations around them, Israel had access to the one true God (Deuteronomy chapter 4 in its entirety). Alas, Israel did not believe a word God said (today’s Scripture)! They heard, heard, heard… but they did not believe, believe, believe! Hearing the Word of God does not benefit you if you do not believe it! Paul said this of unbelieving Jews in Romans 10:17: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Israel had heard the Word of God for centuries, and yet was still in rank unbelief during his Acts ministry!

The writer of the Book of Hebrews, speaking to Israel during the future time after our Dispensation of Grace, urges the Jews to believe the kingdom doctrines Jesus Christ taught during His earthly ministry. They are to believe on Him as their Messiah, the Son of God, their Redeemer; they must wait for Him to return at His Second Coming to establish that earthly kingdom of God. That wonderful news cannot profit them if “not mixed with faith!”