Silenced!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 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 1:7,8 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to preach sound Bible doctrine.

Brethren, Satan has a two-fold strategy for hindering God’s will. In “phase 1,” he attacks the message. Remember, his first words in Scripture are in Genesis 3:1: Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Satan’s chief goal is to question (challenge) God’s Word, thus removing it as the authority. After repeatedly distorting the Bible, he outright denied it in verse 4. Satan effectually enticed Adam and Eve to corrupt, and thereby abandon, sound Bible doctrine.

If the saint maintains and defends sound Bible doctrine, not relinquishing it, then Satan begins “phase 2.” Satan’s objective here is to attack the messenger, to somehow silence him—through intimidation, hardship, embarrassment, discouragement, and so on. This is where we find Timothy in today’s Scripture. In 1 Timothy, he had dealt with false teaching in Ephesus. He has remained faithful to the grace message, having not compromised with the legalists. Satan has failed to get Timothy to pervert grace.

Now, in 2 Timothy (today’s Scripture), Timothy’s face is damp with “tears” (verse 4). He is crying, emotionally exhausted, overwhelmed by opposition and distress in the ministry. As Paul writes, pervasive doctrinal error exists now: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (verse 15). Most Christians have now abandoned Paul’s doctrine, preferring legalism and other heresies. Dejected Timothy has surrendered, having ceased (!) preaching Pauline doctrine (verse 6).

Paul, imprisoned far away in Rome for preaching God’s grace through Christ, is moved by the Holy Spirit to encourage Timothy to not be ashamed (today’s Scripture). “Timothy, remember who you are and where you came from. God’s power will get you through your situations. Share in those afflictions that accompany the Gospel! No matter what happens, boldly preach!” (Brethren, may we do likewise.)

Solace!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to enjoy the solace of the God of all comfort.

Today’s Scripture is the Apostle Paul at the lowest point in his whole ministry. Keep reading: “[8] For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: [9] But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: [10] Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;….” Did you sense Paul’s great depression in verse 8?

When the Apostle refers to his “trouble… in Asia,” that would have been something that occurred in Asia Minor (modern Turkey). On its western shore sat the city of Ephesus. Here, in Acts chapter 19, Paul had preached Jesus Christ and founded the church at Ephesus. You would do well to read the chapter sometime. Paul’s preaching the truth caused a revival in that spiritually dead, pagan city. With the idol-makers losing customers, they lashed out and caused a riot. Paul could have lost his life! Thankfully, God supported him physically (but most importantly, spiritually).

Saint, when you get “pressed out of measure” in ministry, “above strength, insomuch that [you] despair even of life,” you just keep on going! After all, “But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;….” If the saints of old found solace in the God of all comfort, then we will too!

Our archived Bible Q&A: “Should Christians celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?

Safe!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be spiritually and mentally safe.

Until the Rapture, Christian brethren, we are prone to worry. Anxiety—being full of care—is spiritually dangerous. We should replace our fretting with praying: we talk to God about our circumstances. His Word rightly divided has the answer, so we prayerfully study it and then apply pertinent verses to life. We thereby gain our Heavenly Father’s peace.

Today’s Scripture says we need God’s peace to “keep [protect] [our] hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Why? Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), is the master deceiver: he assiduously seeks to use error to distract us from the truth. Two particular schemes, religion and circumstances, greatly advance his cause. Unfavorable situations cause us to assume God is displeased with us and is now chastening us. We then struggle in works-religion to “get back on His good side.” Absolutely, we are not living in reality; Satan has tricked us! Reality says God loves us—look at Calvary (Romans 5:8)—and accepts us in Christ the Beloved—look at Calvary (Ephesians 1:6,7)!

Romans 8:35-39 begins with “who,” for Satan exploits these various situations to mislead us into thinking God does not love us: “[35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…. [37] Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In all these circumstances, brethren, “we are more than conquerors.” Not only do we overcome them (remember 1 Corinthians 10:13?), we make them occasions to rely on Christ more (remember 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 and Philippians 4:11-13?). Strength having replaced helplessness, security having replaced vulnerability, we now replace our anxiety with God’s peace! 🙂

Salient!

Monday, March 5, 2018

But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (1 Peter 3:14-16 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be striking in our handling of suffering.

The Holy Spirit wrote today’s Scripture concerning end-times persecution: Israel’s believing remnant will suffer immensely under the Antichrist. The Lord Jesus commented in Matthew chapter 24: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (verses 9,10). Verse 21 is worse: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since [!!!!] the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be [!!!!].”

In the midst of such dreadful torment and slaughter, God the Holy Spirit wants the Little Flock to be “ready always” to have an “answer” (Greek, apologia—a defense, as in apologetics) when someone will ask them for a reason of the hope in them. They are to be salient, prominent, for their endurance. Just what enables them to bear unparalleled pressure from the Adversary (Satan, embodied in the Antichrist)? How can they tolerate all the opposition, resist the majority, challenge this seemingly omnipotent tyrant, and not be crushed internally by hopelessness?

The answer was already provided in chapter 1: “[5] Who are kept [protected] by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [6] Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [Second Coming] of Jesus Christ:….”

Paul’s epistles provide us our defense!

Sufficient!

Friday, March 2, 2018

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to recognize God’s grace as sufficient.

Two men in human history suffered far beyond the norm. Obviously, the first is the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered the most. Never will we fathom the torment He endured physically and spiritually as He faced the wrath of a righteous God and sinful men. The second is the Apostle Paul, laboring so diligently to preach to wretched sinners in all nations that Christ was crucified for them.

As Paul conducted his ministry, Satan caused him such hardship and grief. Unbelieving Jews constantly plotted to kill him; the Roman government eagerly helped those Jews suppress that “illegal religion;” many of Paul’s Christian friends betrayed and abandoned him; evil spirits mocked him; he was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, robbed; and so on. Friend, whenever you think you have it rough, cancel your “pity party” by reading Paul’s afflictions recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:22-33!

In addition to the aforementioned trials and tribulations, some mysterious “thorn in the flesh” troubled Paul (today’s Scripture). While Satan attempted to hinder Paul, God utilized it to keep Paul from being worshipped. Paul begged the Lord in prayer three times to have that problem depart, but it did not. The Lord Jesus Christ replied to Paul’s prayer, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.Paul took that revealed Word and concluded, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” God’s grace is enough for you too!

Second Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;….”

Succoured!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18 KJV).

Without further delay, we should let the succouring Saviour succour us.

The Book of Hebrews is not written to us members of the Church the Body of Christ. It refers to “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:5), the ages to come, events after our Dispensation of Grace. Still, because of parallels, we can benefit from Israel’s Scriptures at times.

Hebrews concentrates on the time of immense suffering, the abundant temptation and persecution, that Israel’s Little Flock will experience during the Antichrist’s rule (recall Psalm 10?). The writer of Hebrews reminds them of the Lord Jesus Christ being there to “succour” them, to assist them in their time of great need. As Christ suffered, but relied on Father God, so they can rely on Him to see it through their dark days.

Harmonizing with Hebrews, James and Peter both wrote to Israel suffering under the Antichrist. For example, James 1:2: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;….” And verse 12: “Blessed [happy!] is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Finally, 1 Peter 1:6,7: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing [Second Coming] of Jesus Christ.” This is how believing Israel should view her end-times distress.

If God will comfort believing Israel during the worst (!) period of human history, then surely, brethren, He can aid us in our times of need. When we face difficulties, we know that He has equipped us to fully endure them. First Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Did not God send messengers to Gentiles prior to Paul’s apostleship?

Suffering!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

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 (Romans 8:22,23 KJV).

Without further delay, we need to be prepared to suffer.

Dear friend, suffering is rampant—violence, sickness, injustice, cruelty, et cetera. Eventually, people get overloaded with burdens and sorrow, thus resorting to drugs, alcohol, and (sadly) even suicide, to cope.

Suffering has three sources. Firstly, we have the curse of sin: no matter what we do, we live in a fallen creation. Thus, disease, physical limitations, and death plague us. Short of the Lord’s coming for His children, they too will hurt, grow old, and die. Contrary to popular belief, Christians do suffer physical difficulties and corporeal pain—we are not guaranteed physical healing until the Rapture (today’s Scripture)! Secondly, our mistakes result in suffering. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, those poor decisions lead to terrible consequences. Someone will make a poor choice today and it will negatively affect you. You will make a mistake today and hurt someone.

Thirdly, there is the special (rare) suffering found in 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (Acts 14:22 reads in part, “…we must [!] through much [!] tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”) This applies exclusively to Christians. Since we are in “enemy territory”—living as Satan’s evil world system operates—we will encounter resistance. Various degrees of persecution will follow us. The more we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit working in us, the more contrary we become to Satan’s policy of evil. If Satan cannot entice us to change the sound Bible doctrine we preach and teach, then he will intimidate us into silence (loved ones mistreating/shunning us, enemies trying to harm/kill us, governments trying to oppress/imprison us).

However, in the context of today’s Scripture, we learn: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (verse 18). No matter how much we suffer here, dear saints, the eternal glory awaiting us is infinitesimally greater!