A Caring Apostle Not Cared For

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, we glimpse into the heart of our Apostle Paul, and what an amazing sight we behold!

Preceding today’s Scripture, Paul described the suffering he experienced for being God’s apostle of us Gentiles:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes [whippings] above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one [195 scourgings!]. Thrice [Three times] was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [stranded in the sea]; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen [Jews], in perils by the heathen [Gentiles], in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (verses 23-27).

False teachers and apostles were turning the Corinthians against Paul, so becoming highly critical of Paul’s bodily appearance and his apostleship (see 2 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11). The epistle of 2 Corinthians defends Paul’s apostleship. Today’s Scripture (and its context quoted above) is Paul’s defense: my sufferings for the Gospel demonstrate that I am a genuine apostle of Jesus Christ! Unfortunately, like most professing Christians today, the Corinthians needed to appreciate the special ministry the ascended Lord Jesus Christ gave to Paul.

What Paul wrote in today’s Scripture summarizes the attitude that every Christian should have: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul did not focus on his own troubling circumstances: He was too busy daily wondering about the wellbeing of the saints who were saved under his ministry. What dedication and selflessness!

Saints, let us thank God daily for sending “faithful” Paul to us Gentiles….

Let Him Be Ignorant

Monday, June 4, 2012

“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:38 KJV).

As Jesus Christ’s ambassadors, we are commissioned to tell the lost world of God’s saving grace in Christ. We are also instructed to impart sound Bible doctrine (Pauline dispensationalism) to other Christians so that they may grow spiritually. But what if individuals (including professing “Christians”) refuse to listen to us? Today’s Scripture MUST then be applied.

There is nothing wrong with Bible questions, but arguing for the sake of arguing is worthless and a waste of time. “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive” (2 Timothy 2:23,24a). If someone deliberately and persistently rejects Paul’s apostolic authority, let them remain ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37; the verse preceding today’s Scripture). If a person wants to go to hell, and refuses to accept sound Bible doctrine by trusting Christ Jesus alone, let them stay confused. Free will!!! God does not twist arms, and neither should we.

Proverbs 26:4,5 KJV is wisdom in this regard: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” Sometimes it is appropriate to respond to the scoffers; other times, you will decide to say nothing, and go on your way to those who will listen. Determine what action the situation requires by listening to the person’s tone, and comments, and observing their facial expressions, demeanor, and so on. But do not waste time arguing!

Be not discouraged when someone refuses to hear your testimony regarding God’s Word (the King James Bible). Just go on your way and speak to those who do want to hear what the Bible says! (Those who reject you as a Christian are not rejecting you per-say, they are rejecting God, and God will deal with them.)

Paul warned Timothy: “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting [defeat, ruin] of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14).

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

Our Kinsmen According to the Flesh

Sunday, June 3, 2012

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:” (Romans 9:1-3 KJV).

Sharing Jesus Christ with lost (unsaved) strangers is difficult. We need to tell them of their impending eternal doom and of the salvation in Christ, but we sometimes keep quiet, fearing ridicule and rejection. However, telling our own family about Christ is tougher….

In today’s Scripture, our Apostle Paul begins three chapters—Romans chapters 9-11—that discuss Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Israel once had a special position before God (Romans 9:4,5). When Paul wrote today’s Scripture, God had already begun to set Israel and her program aside: Israel’s “diminishing” occurred between Acts chapters 7 and 28. Today, in this the Dispensation of Grace, Israel is temporarily spiritually “blinded” and “fallen” (Romans 11:11,12,25).

Compare today’s Scripture with Romans 10:1-3: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

Oh, how Jewish Paul grieved for lost (hell-bound) Israel, who ignored Christ’s finished crosswork (“the righteousness of God;” Romans 10:3 cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21)! They disregarded Paul’s Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). They rejected Christ’s bloodshed, death, burial, and resurrection, and emphasized “their own righteousness” (doing religious works, hoping to obtain salvation, but actually heading for eternal damnation). How we grieve for our family members who are equally religious (and equally lost)!!!

Paul preached Jesus Christ “that he might save some of them [Jews, his kinsmen according to the flesh]” (Romans 11:14). Be not discouraged! We will not save all of our family members. Nevertheless, we BOLDLY preach, for “some” “of [our] kinsmen according to the flesh” will trust Christ alone and be saved.

A Higher Education: It Is Up to You

Saturday, May 19, 2012

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 KJV).

Six years ago today, I graduated high school. Consequently, we dedicate this devotional to high school students who are nearing graduation.

Are you about to graduate high school? What would God have you do afterward? Go to college? Trade school? Something else? What career should you pursue? If you do plan on education after high school, where should you attend school? These are tough questions, and while God’s Word does not answer them, you can make decisions that conform to sound Bible doctrine—that is God’s will.

In today’s Scripture, Paul encourages downcast Timothy. Timothy was considerably younger than the Apostle Paul. Older people who are teaching false doctrine are intimidating young Timothy: “Tim, you are too young to teach God’s Word. Let us handle it.” Young Timothy conceded, became silent, and allowed the (“older and wiser”) false teachers to continue teaching their damnable heresies (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:5-8). Paul replied, “Timothy, Speak up! Let no man despise thy youth!”

Christian youth can be just as effectual in their station in life as Christian adults. The lost world is watching us Christians, and we need to be sure that our actions are in accordance with the sound Bible doctrine we claim to believe (lest we be guilty of confusing the already-puzzled unbelievers). Whether “young or old,” our speech, our lifestyle, our acts of love, our determination, our belief in sound Bible doctrine, and our separation from that which God hates, is the way we communicate to the lost world God’s Word and its preeminence in our lives and hearts (today’s Scripture).

Above all, dear graduates, whatever you do post-graduation, “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). After all, it really is not your life—it is Christ’s life in you (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:4), so He alone deserves the glory!

*Based on a Bible study by the same name, which can be read here. Also, see the study “The Spirit-Filled Student.”

Are We Bibliolators? #8

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2 KJV).

The Christian life is already difficult, for most of the world is against you. Being a King James-only Pauline dispensationalist maketh it more difficult, for most of Christendom is against you. Be not weary, saints. We would rather please God than man!

Counterfeit Bibles is Satan’s most effective tool in dividing and confusing the Body of Christ: by quoting numerous opposing Bible versions, God’s people have lost their common voice. Oftentimes, “King James-only” believers are called “church splitters” and “heretics.” Oh, what irony! Heretics, unlike “King James-only” people, do not hold firm to God’s Word; heretics criticize God’s Word, which is exactly what anti-King James people do!!! The real church splitters are those who teach, “All 200 modern ‘bible’ versions are good.” If congregants reading 200 opposing “bibles” does not split churches, what does?! Why not everyone use only the King James; that is unity!

Our critics call us “fanatics” for using and believing the King James Bible; SO BE IT! We are privileged to join our Apostle Paul and our Saviour Jesus Christ in being “reviled, persecuted, defamed, made the filth of the world, and [made] the offscouring [scum!] of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:12,13).

As King James Bible users, let us suffer “hardness,” let us “endure [it] as good soldiers of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). Compromise not. Never let go of your King James Bible. It will never let you down, for God’s Word will never let you down.

If we claim to be people of faith, let us also act like people of faith. What is God’s attitude toward the Bible? He hath “magnified [his] word above all [his] name” (today’s Scripture). If we are people of faith, we will share that attitude. Criticizing the King James Bible is not an act of faith; it is an act of doubting God’s Word (unbelief). Wilt thou “magnify” the King James Bible “above all [God’s] name?” The evidence doth indicate that thou shouldst!

These past eight devotionals have been combined and expanded to form the larger study, “Are We Bibliolaters?,” which can be read here or watched here.

Be Thou Partaker of the Afflictions of the Gospel

Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8 KJV).

Has God promised us Christians a “carefree, trouble-free life,” as today’s prosperity preachers assert?

Young Timothy, pastor of the Ephesian church, has grown weary because of satanic opposition: he is fearful, for the lost world has intimidated him to the point of discouragement and/or silence (verse 7). Timothy is ashamed of God’s Word, and of imprisoned Paul. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul encourages Timothy with today’s Scripture: “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord!” “Speak up, Timothy! They need to hear God’s Word, so endure the suffering!”

Satan is against us, saints, because he is against our God. The devil wants to wear us out; he will use unbelievers—and even “Christian” brethren—to intimidate and mock us. Satan uses evil men to persecute us, so we grow “ashamed” of God’s Word, and then throw up our hands and quit! We need to be “partakers of the afflictions of the Gospel.” No greater privilege do we Christians have than suffering for the God who died for us!

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). In verse 11, Paul speaks of his “persecutions” and “afflictions,” “but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” How did God deliver him? The end of today’s Scripture tells us: “according to the power of God.” In order to endure Satan’s attacks, we rely on God’s power, not on our strength and resources (or we shall be defeated) (2 Corinthians 1:8,9).

“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation” (2 Corinthians 1:3-10; 2 Timothy 2:11-13). We have God’s sufficient grace to comfort us: “Therefore I take pleasure… in reproaches,… in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong(2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

So, be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel!

Unknown by Face (For Now, Anyway)

Monday, March 12, 2012

“Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me” (Galatians 1:21-24 KJV).

Today’s Scripture says Jewish believers in Judaea (surrounding Jerusalem) merely heard of Paul’s conversion. They had not seen him in person. Nevertheless, these saints rejoiced because Paul, the very man who once murdered God’s people, was now God’s apostle of the Gentiles! Paul wrote “they glorified God in me.”

The Church the Body of Christ spans some 2,000 years. Its members, scattered worldwide, lived during various centuries, all having never met face-to-face (I have never met most of you in person). Paul never met the Laodiceans and the Colossians (Colossians 2:1)… in this life, anyway. When the Body of Christ is complete, at the rapture, we will see—in person—our brethren, the Christians of the past 20 centuries (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Get excited!!!

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a young grace believer and college student who discovered our devotionals blog (he will be reading this too!). Yesterday, we were finally able to fellowship via telephone… spanning the 1,000-mile distance between us. We know not each other in person—we are both “unknown by face”—but we “glorified God in [each other].” We rejoiced in the Lord, how by His grace, we stood for the grace message (the Gospel of the Grace of God), the King James Bible, young earth creationism, and Pauline dispensationalism. How we were both encouraged by each other’s dedication to sound doctrine, even as our “higher education” systems consider us “outcasts.” Our fervor for upholding God’s Word rightly divided, even in the midst of persecution, encouraged him, and vice versa (1 Thessalonians 3:7,8).

Brethren, when we read or hear about other grace believers proclaiming and defending sound Bible doctrine (Gospel of Grace, King James Bible, Paul’s apostleship, et cetera), let us “glorify God in [them],” even if they are “unknown by face [for now, anyway]!”