Graduated!

Monday, August 21, 2017

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Death is never easy, but the death of a Christian is easier. It is somewhat easier when an aged person dies, but a young person’s decease is quite difficult. Yet, if that young person was “in Christ,” that death is easier to bear.

Recently, an online friend passed on to Heaven after a long battle with cancer. She was only 18 years old. Even though she suffered much, she was a strong testimony for God’s grace. As her friends struggled with trying to reconcile how God could let His saint grow so horrifically ill, she reminded them that, while Father God has redeemed our souls, He has yet to redeem our bodies from sin’s curse. A firm foundation in the Bible rightly divided caused her to rejoice even in the midst of great trouble. While we are secure in Christ, there is no guarantee we will meet our Lord without first experiencing unspeakable bodily infirmities. An aged ministry coworker just told me his aching body was “falling apart.”

I just read the obituary of a dear saint whose Bible studies benefited me. The article was certainly written from the grace perspective. It began by saying that the brother “‘graduated’ on… to be with his Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully.” He was an evangelist for 40 years: “He loved preaching in Rescue Missions, proclaiming the Gospel of the Grace of God to the lost. His passion in life was leading people to Christ and encouraging the body of Christ.” After preaching the Gospel for so long, he at last experienced its hope. Doubtless, he is still enjoying the Lord’s presence all these years later!

Yes, we sorrow, but we sorrow not as those which have no hope. We have a sure expectation that our loved ones in Christ are not lost forever. Father God has them in His loving care, and we will see them (and Him) in His own time. There will be an endless eternity to fellowship with them around the Word of God. For now, dear brethren, we must remember that they want us to continue being ambassadors for Christ down here! 🙂

Confidence

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV).

What assurance the Christian has!

I recently watched a sad documentary on the kidnapping and murder of a teenager. Her murderer had been captured, incarcerated, and executed. Near the end, her father, a preacher, revealed that “she knew where she was going.” In her farewell note, she urged her family to keep on living for Jesus Christ, and that all would turn out right. Undoubtedly, God’s grace is the only reason this family has coped with such a loss all these decades. While it will never bring her back here, it gives them hope to see her in Heaven one day.

Friends, there is no guarantee that our physical bodies will remain intact until we die (or reach Heaven via the Rapture). Due to various sicknesses and injuries, we may lose limbs, tissue, and organs. However, in Christ, we never have to worry about our spirits being separated from Almighty God. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finish crosswork, we have been bound forever to God Himself. The Apostle Paul, awaiting execution, wrote in today’s Scripture that he was “persuaded.” God was “able”—yes, more than able—to hang on to him. As someone would store a valuable item in a safe, so Paul had entrusted his soul to Father God. There was complete security in Christ: nothing would be lost or misplaced. God the Holy Spirit would personally see to it that Paul made it safely to Heaven. The Apostle would in the meantime have some obstacles to endure—ultimately, a decapitation—but his eternal abode in Heaven was sure!

Evidently, that was the confidence that that preacher and his wife had concerning their murdered daughter. She had lost her life at a very young age, but Father God did not lose her soul and neither did she. What persuasion, what hope, what confidence Calvary’s cross provides us! “That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is Romans 2:24 talking about?

Until We Talk Again

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV).

Dear Christian friend, are you longing for Home—Heaven? You must remain focused on your current location!

Some brethren in Christ and myself were recently online, remembering the birthday of a mutual Christian friend whose untimely death caused him to tragically leave us. He graduated to Heaven nearly a year ago. My advice to them was that I was quite sure he would want us all to continue our labor in our Lord. I encouraged them to keep on in that labor, until we talk to our dear brother again!

If our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ could return and tell us something, it would be in the vein of today’s Scripture. After all, that verse was a Spirit-filled Christian exhorting other believers to be Spirit-filled. We should not simply be about the Lord’s work, but rather “always abounding” in it. That means constant, plenteous works, not sitting idly by and/or doing the absolute bare minimum. Christian ministry—which is really for all believers, not just preachers—is about maintaining good works” (Titus 3:8). These “good works” have nothing to do with religious rites, rituals, and ceremonies. It has to do with sharing God’s Word with others. That means preaching the Gospel of Grace to lost people, and teaching the Message of Grace to saved people. In addition to using the printed page, electronic devices, and our voices, that sound doctrine should also be communicated in our actions (daily living).

In the context of today’s Scripture—the whole chapter—we read about the reality of bodily resurrection. Our labor is not in vain in the Lord because physical death does not end our Christian service (see especially verses 50-57—the Rapture, our resurrection as Christians). Our earthly Christian sojourn will end one day. All of our earthly ministries will cease. Still, there is in Heaven waiting for us, a reward… and a reunion with the saints of the ages. We will talk again, and all work together in eternity to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! 🙂

Now in Heaven, Corrected

Thursday, February 2, 2017

“…[T]o be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23 KJV).

What about Christians who died without knowing right division?

Invariably, if you have dealt with Christians transitioning from denominational teaching to grace/dispensational teaching, you will hear one or two particular issues mentioned. One is, “What about [name of a Christian who died without knowing about dispensationalism]?” The other is, “Had I known about grace teaching years ago, I could have told them about it before they died.”

Friends, the good news is that God does not save us on the basis of whether or not we can pass a theological test, rehearse church history, or cite Bible-verse references. All we do is come to understand our lost estate, our deadness in our trespasses and sins, and trust exclusively Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as the remedy for those sins. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). It is so easy that a child can believe, be forgiven, and have a place reserved in heaven!

Soul salvation from sins and Christian growth/living are two entirely different matters. A person can be saved and still be confused about the Bible (that was me, actually). A Christian can have a miserable life, unable to function as God intended (that was me too, actually). However, God’s Word calls heaven, “being with Christ,” as a place “far better” than life on earth (today’s Scripture). Thankfully, in heaven, there is neither confusion nor sin. Those who trusted Christ as Saviour and have since died and gone on to heaven, they now know the truth about the Bible. God has corrected their thinking, so we need not fret about them.

Friends, what we need to be concerned with is ourselves and others on earth—we need to continue growing in the Bible, and those souls we reach need to come to Christ by faith and/or continue maturing in the Holy Scriptures. These should be (are?) our priorities. And, remember, wherever we fall short in our Bible understanding, God will correct us in heaven as well! 🙂

NOTE: Dear readers and saints, please remember us in your monthly giving. Many thanks to those who have given so far! You may donate to us securely by visiting https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or emailing me at arcministries@gmail.com for info on how to donate by “snail mail.”

To See the Invisible Hope #5

Monday, November 7, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

When today’s Scripture says, “We are saved by hope,” this certainly does not mean, “We hope we are good enough to go to heaven when we die.” No, that is not Christianity—that is vain religion masquerading as Christianity! When we come by simple faith in Jesus Christ dying to pay for our sins, His burial to put away our sins, and His resurrection to give us a right standing before God, then we are just as sure of going to heaven as if we were already there with the door locked behind us!

To be “saved by hope” is not referring to being saved into heaven, or being declared righteous before God. It means, “delivered from misery and depression.” If all “life” was was this brief time before death, existence in a sin-cursed world filled with evil and suffering, we would have every reason in the world to feel depressed beyond words. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). We would be most miserableindeed! In fact, the Corinthians, who were denying bodily resurrection, had robbed themselves of such Christian joy.

Thankfully, brethren, we are not trapped in these limited, weakening bodies forever. As we would change clothes, God will take these earthly bodies and exchange them for heavenly bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:36-58; 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8). We will then share in Jesus Christ’s glorification in the heavenly places forever (Romans 8:18-25). Let us take our stand by faith in these simple truths, thereby letting us “see the invisible hope,” until we see the hope we cannot see! 🙂

To See the Invisible Hope #4

Sunday, November 6, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This is certainly an unusual exhortation—“look not at the things which are seen, but [look] at the things which are not seen.” What is one of the things we should look at today, which cannot be seen? It would be the first eight verses of chapter 5, which are an explanation of the context of today’s Scripture (Romans 8:18-25).

At the head of its great “Hall of Faith” chapter, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (And then, the writer lists dozens of names of believers from ancient Bible days.) When we hope for something, we cannot see it with the physical eyes. But, we assume it is coming. It may or may not come. However, when the Bible speaks of hope, it does not mean, “I sure hope it comes.” “Hope” in today’s Scripture, as well as in Hebrews 11:1, is a “confident waiting.” As today’s Scripture says, “we with patience wait for it.” The day of the resurrection of us Christians is coming, the Rapture is imminent, but we must not rush it.

While we cannot physically see our glorified bodies today, while they do not exist today, God’s Word plainly declares they will exist and we will indwell them. We just believe those verses, counting them as true (for they are true), and that hope delivers us from misery and depression….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Epistle’ and ‘letter’—same or different?

To See the Invisible Hope #3

Saturday, November 5, 2016

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:22-25 KJV).

How do we see the hope that cannot be seen?

What Paul only mentions briefly in today’s Scripture, he provides great detail in Second Corinthians.

Chapter 4: “[16] …[B]ut though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Now, chapter 5: “[1] For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [4] For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. [6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Rather than using physical eyes, we employ the eyes of faith….