Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Friday, December 7, 2018

“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! 🙂

Unity in Diversity

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 KJV).

Despite the diversity in the Church the Body of Christ, behold the unity in the Church the Body of Christ!

The Corinthians were carnal, fleshly, selfish saints who were guilty of infighting (1 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They had to be taught a lengthy lesson on charity, love in action (1 Corinthians chapter 13). At that time when God the Holy Spirit was still giving out spiritual gifts, the Corinthians used their “gifts” to help themselves and draw attention to themselves. However the Holy Spirit was being revealed to them was not a time for them individually to profit. Ministry at the local assembly was not for them to seek their own good but rather the advancement of those around them.

We should never view ministry as a competition between ourselves and other believers in Christ. If sound Bible doctrine, or grace, is working in us, and sound Bible doctrine is working in them, then we are working to the same end. There should be no envy, as it is the same Holy Spirit. The only reason we would feel covetous is if we were under the impression that it was all about us. We still have so much to learn about grace if we think that the Bible is all about us. We still have so much to learn about the Bible if we think that ministry is all about us. It is (should be) all about the Lord Jesus Christ!

Yes, we all play our own little part, our own unique role, in Father God’s grand scheme of things. He does not need us to participate but He does want us. He does not force us but He does invite us. If we do not have the right attitude, then it is best for us not to get involved in ministry at all. It will do far more damage than good. Saints, despite our diversity, we have unity in Jesus Christ!

A Recipe for Disaster

Monday, November 26, 2018

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).

Can we possess God’s Word and it not benefit us?

From the time He created man and placed him on Earth, the God of the Bible has extended a message for man’s faith and obedience. While a written Bible was not always available to man, there was God’s spoken Word. That message changed through time because man changed. These individual Divine revelations are “dispensations,” each applicable only for a limited time.

In today’s Scripture (actually beginning back in chapter 3), the writer of the Book of Hebrews recalls Israel’s history. JEHOVAH God had promised them the land of Canaan, but they refused to enter (Numbers chapters 13–14). Hebrews reveals their problem: “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (3:19). They did not believe God’s Word to them. No faith!

A person can own a Bible, carry it around, flip through it, read it daily, memorize it, tell others about it, hear it preached at church, and still be out of God’s will and still lack His power. No matter the dispensation, personal faith is always most important before God: “But without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Faith is the key to activating God’s Word in our lives. Once we believe the verses we read or hear, God the Holy Spirit works in us and then outwardly: “…To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He makes the verses a reality in our lives, that we reflect the grace doctrine we believe, and thus He benefits us! 🙂

Poor—Times Two!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour (Proverbs 19:4 KJV).

If the prosperous man loses his money, he will likely lose his friends too!

A famous multibillionaire once stated that he would like to temporarily lose his fortune. Why? He was curious as to who would remain loyal to him and who would abandon him. For once, his true friends would be apparent—if he had any. While he likely did not realize it, he was communicating the truth found in today’s Scripture (cf. Proverbs 14:20). The affluent members of mankind enjoy their extravagant, packed social gatherings. While it is certainly not a sin to be well-to-do, one does run the risk of unwittingly associating with phonies. “Friends” accumulate with the money. Eventually, they desire you to become their “lender,” among other favors. Once the bank accounts run dry, the contacts quickly say “goodbye!”

While most inconvenient, the fact is that no friendship is immune from destruction or hypocrisy. Christian relationships, while quite enjoyable, can turn sour in a heartbeat. Someone may be our “friend” only under certain conditions. When trouble comes, once difficulty arises, they could not be more aloof and unsympathetic. That is the result of sin. In that day, you will learn the foundation of your friendships. Was it luxurious homes and vehicles, exotic trips, and enormous loans? Or, was it love, kindness, and respect?

To better understand today’s Scripture, we look at it in context—namely, Israel’s kingdom (prophetic) program. One stipulation of being a follower of Jesus Christ in the Jewish program is to “sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33). Unbelievers will retain their wealth, since they will align themselves with the Antichrist and his opulent political-religious system (Revelation 13:15-18; Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24). Israel’s Little Flock, the believing remnant, will experience today’s Scripture firsthand. They did back in the Acts period (20 centuries ago), and will experience it again (after our dispensation ends and their program resumes where it paused). Outcasts, destitute and oppressed, they “go forth therefore unto [Jesus] without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).

Like them, let us remember that no matter how many “friends” we lose, the Lord Jesus Christ is more than enough to be gained! 🙂

In Every Thing Give Thanks

Thursday, November 22, 2018

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV).

Dear saints, take a moment this Thanksgiving to learn a valuable lesson from the Holy Scriptures!

God wants “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4). To be “saved” here means you have been rescued from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire), and that you have a home in heaven, because you have trusted the death, shed blood, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as sufficient payment for your sins. To “come unto the knowledge of the truth” is when a person who has trusted Christ, begins to understand why God saved him or her, and how God will use him or her for His glory. Although soul salvation is instantaneous, spiritual maturity is a life-long process (that is especially true regarding handling difficulties, the grace way!).

It is human nature to avoid difficulties and stress, to flee them, rather than confront them. This self-preservation is advantageous, particularly in “life or death” situations. However, running from troubling circumstances is not the way God has designed our life in Christ to function. Today’s Scripture says, In every thing give thanks,” notFor every thing give thanks.” We do not thank God for our troubles; we thank God while we are enduring those troubles. This is tough, I know, but it takes time for us to learn it. Even the Apostle Paul had to learn this.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Be thankful in every thing. God’s grace is sufficient for you, dear saint, in all of life’s circumstances. When you learn this, you are “[coming] unto the knowledge of the truth.”

*Excerpted from our Thanksgiving 2012 Bible study with the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

You may also see, “What are our spiritual blessings in Christ?

The Greatest Veteran

Sunday, November 11, 2018

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14,15 KJV).

Today is Veterans’ Day in the United States, so let us especially thank the “Greatest Veteran of All Time.”

We thank veterans, living and departed, the often-forgotten men and women who risked their lives to secure our freedom. Just as we remember flesh-and-blood veterans who fought for our physical liberty, we reserve our worship and utmost respect for the least esteemed Veteran, He who secured our spiritual liberty.

“But thanks be to God, which giveth us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, we have eternal victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan. Everything that God has planned for us is dependent upon Christ’s victory at Calvary.

Jesus Christ nailed the Mosaic Law to His cross (today’s Scripture). His sinless blood covered our failure to obey God’s laws; Jesus’ righteousness annulled our unrighteousness (sin). Christ not only liberated us from sin and its penalty (the everlasting lake of fire), but today’s Scripture affirms He also triumphed over Satan himself!

Christ has “spoiled [destroyed] principalities and powers [Satan’s power], he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [His cross].” Jesus Christ destroyed Satan’s plans. Through Christ’s cross, God has “delivered us from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), Satan’s evil system of Ephesians 2:1-3.

During a recent cemetery visit, I noticed American flags flying above deceased veterans’ headstones. These individuals can no longer hear or regard our thanks, but Jesus Christ’s body is not decaying in some tomb. If there ever was a Veteran most worthy of our gratitude, it is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He died in battle, allowing Himself to be executed on a Roman cross of shame and scorn, He resurrected. He is alive and well today, alive forevermore!

Saints, eternity will ring with our thanks to the Veteran worth thanking, the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Adapted from our 2010 Bible study, “The Greatest Hero.” The Bible study video can be viewed here.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

The Debtor, Ready and Unashamed!

Friday, November 9, 2018

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:14-16 KJV).

Behold, dear brethren, Pauline evangelism in one succinct passage!

  • “I am debtor” (verse 14) — “I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” The Apostle Paul understood that he had an obligation or duty to preach the Gospel of the Grace of God to all people—whether Greek or Barbarian (non-Greek), both the “cultured and educated” and the “unrefined and simple.” “…Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle,… a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity” (1 Timothy 2:5c-7).
  • “I am ready” (verse 15) — “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” Paul was prepared, aware of his marching orders, and compliant with the Holy Spirit’s working within him. “[Christ] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:28,29).
  • “I am not ashamed” (verse 16) — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Paul knew that just as Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection was sufficient payment for his sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), that Gospel of Grace was trustworthy in taking care of all the sins of all those precious souls to whom he preached so fervently. If they would simply believe that Gospel message, God’s power would yank them from their path to Hell and send them on their way to Heaven!