Scrooges and Christians

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“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 5:17 KJV).

To the old identity, we say, “Bah, Humbug!” To the new, we say, “God has blessed us, everyone in Christ.”

Other than Jesus Christ’s conception and birth as found in the Holy Bible, there is one other classic story associated with Christmastime. British author Charles Dickens’ 1843 book, A Christmas Carol, focuses on the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge (the novella has some Christian influence).

From the onset, Scrooge is a wealthy, miserable, mean, stingy, and selfish old man. His employee, Bob Cratchit, is underpaid (yet, strangely, Ebenezer observes, Cratchit is cheerful). Scrooge refuses to donate to charities collecting for the destitute—to him, Christmastime is a time for others to “pick his pocket.” He even refuses to attend his nephew’s Christmas party. What a miser!

Through visitations by four Spirits—his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future—Scrooge is forced to realize what a thoroughly rotten man he is. Once confronted with his future, the awful events that lie ahead, he asks for another chance to make things right (which, thankfully, he receives and does!). The Scrooge at the end of the book is drastically different from the Scrooge at the beginning. Scrooge is now loving, warm, cheerful, and generous—he is a brand-new man.

Bible-believing Christians recognize parallels between Dickens’ work and the Holy Scriptures. The sinner starts off rotten, a rebel from birth—selfish, miserable, and mean. When he or she comes to realize that pitiful condition he or she is in, and comes by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins, God gives him or her a new identity (today’s Scripture). That identity is designed to influence subsequent actions. Scrooge did not simply change his outward activity; he had a change in heart first. This Christmas, let us be submissive to God’s Holy Spirit working in our hearts, as He uses sound Bible doctrine to manifest in our behavior our identity in Christ, that we be not Scrooges.

Earnest #8

Monday, November 23, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Although Father God has wrought a mighty work in us believers in Christ, we are actually a “work in progress.” Indeed, our souls and spirits have been redeemed, purchased out of sin’s slave market with Christ’s shed blood.

Romans chapter 3: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

However, we are not yet redeemed physically: we are still in these mortal bodies of flesh and blood. Since God is still operating the Dispensation of Grace, He has left the Church the Body of Christ on Earth. To delay His wrath another day—so more people trust His Son and escape the coming judgment this present evil world deserves—He keeps us here. The Apostle Peter learned this from the Apostle Paul: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

We have been justified (made right in God’s sight). We are being sanctified (daily set apart unto His plan and purpose). We will be glorified (brought into the heavenly places). The indwelling Holy Spirit is our “earnest”—or “taste” (“arrabon” in Hebrews 6:5)—that what mighty work God started in us He will also finish. The eternal life we are promised in Heaven can be ours now… and the indwelling Spirit of God guarantees it! 🙂

Earnest #7

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the indwelling Holy Ghost, the third Member of the Godhead. Remember today’s Scripture: “God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” Ephesians chapter 2 closes: “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Also, Romans 5:5: “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.First Corinthians 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Now, chapter 6, verse 19: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Finally, 2 Timothy 1:14: “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

We thrice read about the Holy Spirit being the “earnest”—today’s Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:5, and Ephesians 1:13,14. Recall the Ephesians reference: “Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Father God gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit to show us He will one day finish His transaction in securing us from sin. We have been redeemed soul and spirit—Christ’s blood bought us out of sin’s slave market (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Yet, we are waiting to receive a physical redemption; this is the bodily resurrection in Romans 8:18-25, Ephesians 1:14, and Ephesians 4:30 (“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”). Just as “earnest money” in the business world anticipates the full purchase, so the Holy Spirit is our “earnest” in expectation of our whole redemption.

Let us conclude this devotionals arc….

Earnest #6

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” God does not justify us based on our good works. However, He wants to do good works in and through us. We are His “workmanship”—His “poiema” (Greek), poem, creature. He has wrought such a mighty deed in rescuing us from the penalty of sin (Hell and the Lake of Fire).

Walking by faith in our position in Christ—we are dead to sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11)—we are delivered from the power of sin. Daily victorious Christian living is Titus 2:11,12: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;….” Now, there is one more type of salvation, which we await. It is deliverance from the presence of sin (leaving this sin-cursed world to enter Heaven).

Romans chapter 8 speaks of this future bodily, or physical, redemption: “[20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] 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. [24] 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?”

Let us summarize this devotionals arc….

Earnest #5

Friday, November 20, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

In business terms, “earnest money” is a percentage of the purchase price the buyer pays the seller, as a gesture that the buyer will eventually pay the full amount to complete the transaction. Even more succinctly, it is “part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest.” This deposit or pledge can also be seen as a down-payment that the entire amount will be subsequently paid.

The Greek word is “arrabon,” transliterated from the Old Testament Hebrew “`arabown.” Greeks and Romans evidently borrowed the term from the Phoenicians, the inventors of traffic or trade. In the Greek New Testament, the word is found thrice—the very three passages now familiar to us here. Before we deal with the “earnest of the Spirit” any further, we turn to the Old Testament for the equivalent idea. While a rather distasteful context, a deal between Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar amplifies Paul’s usage of the term.

In Genesis chapter 38, Judah (one of Jacob’s 12 sons) had three children with a Canaanite woman. The first boy (Er) was evil, so God killed him and left his wife (Tamar) childless. Judah married Tamar to his second son (Onan), but Onan too was wicked so God slew him. Tamar is still childless. Judah’s last son (Shelah) is too young for marriage, but Judah promises Tamar she can have Shelah when he has matured. Unfortunately, as the years pass, Judah fails to give Shelah to Tamar, so she connives to bear a child with Judah’s bloodline directly. Disguised as a harlot, she renders “services” to unwitting Judah, producing twins Zerah and Pharez. (Pharez was Jesus’ ancestor through both Mary [Luke 3:23,33] and Joseph [Matthew 1:3,16].) Judah ultimately paid his daughter-in-law in the form of a lamb, but he used his signet (seal ring), his bracelets, and his staff as a “pledge” until he paid in full with the sheep (Genesis 38:17,18,20).

Now, back to Paul’s employment of the term….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘fuller?’

Earnest #4

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Read this excerpt from Ephesians chapter 1, which is really three colossal sentences in Greek (!): “[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: [4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

“[7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: [11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: [12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

“[13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Again, the Holy Spirit has “sealed” us, permanently making us—and marking us as—God’s own. We have a destiny in the Heavenly Places, sure to arrive at that inheritance because of “the earnest of the Spirit….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are denominationalists deliberately lying?

Earnest #3

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV).

What exactly is an “earnest?” How is the Holy Spirit involved?

Moving to the final verses of chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians, and reading into chapter 5: “[4:16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [4:17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [4:18] 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.

“[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. [5:2] For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: [5:3] If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. [5:4] 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. [5:5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”

Friend, do you have the same strength and energy you had when you were younger? In case you have not noticed, your physical body is wearing down with age. You can no longer do what you used to do. Also, you do not feel as good as you once did. The aging process is not pleasant, for the body daily grows frailer and more susceptible to disease, injury, and limitation. Finally, death occurs. How depressing! Thankfully, the good news is we are not perpetually bound to this “earthly house of this tabernacle.” In Christ, we are guaranteed new glorified bodies. At the resurrection, we will receive bodies immune to all sickness and debility. Yea, we have “the earnest of the Spirit” to prove it….

Fret Not! #7

Sunday, November 15, 2020

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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The upcoming weeks will be quite interesting for our country. Whatever happens, whoever is ultimately declared president, the next four years will be challenging. Maybe the “fatal blow” has already been inflicted—maybe not. Only time will tell. In light of eternity, this is really but a minor issue.

No matter what shocking or distressing information we uncover in this life, Father God already knew about it. In fact, He is aware of every single scintilla of bad news. The curse of sin and Satan’s influence are literally universal. Nevertheless, God, with complete knowledge of all that is wrong, is not fretting. Why? He knows how it will ultimately be made right one day. We simply take the position of faith. Yea, we agree with Him!

Never forget Colossians chapter 1: “[16] For by him [the Son, Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: [17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [19] For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; [20] And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Through Christ’s shed blood, saints will occupy Earth’s governments and Heaven’s governments. Redeemed Israel will accomplish God’s purpose and plan in the Earth; the Church the Body of Christ will do likewise in the Heavenly Places. Evil will be dealt with, and permanently removed from creation. Hasten that wonderful day, Lord, hasten that wonderful day! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is a ‘charger?’

Fret Not! #6

Saturday, November 14, 2020

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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

Today’s Scripture encourages us to worry about nothing. In our circumstances—good or bad—we can and should come to Father God in prayer. Whatever the case, we talk to Him in light of what we have read in His Word rightly divided, thereby giving us “the peace of God.” “Peace” is in the sense of tranquility, freedom from distress or anxiety. Our hearts (souls) and minds (spirits) will be guarded through Christ Jesus, the one and only Mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5).

Verily, verily, we live in a fallen world; the Bible calls it “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). This is because Satan is called “the god [ruler] of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Adam giving him possession of it back in Genesis chapter 3. Hence, he boasted to Christ in chapter 4 of Luke: “[5] And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. [6] And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. [7] If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. [8] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Ultimately, Jesus will indeed gain control of the world’s kingdoms—and He will not have to worship Satan! Revelation 11:15 says of that glorious future day: “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” As touching the evil in the world, let us remember that it is only for a time. The Lord, when He is ready, will make things right. We take comfort in that.

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Fret Not! #5

Friday, November 13, 2020

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).

Election Day 2020 is passed, but its drama continues.

The Book of James comments: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). Romans 16:19 adds: “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”

Over the decades, especially here in the United States, the professing Body of Christ has gained quite a reputation for taking certain political positions. While this is not wrong in and of itself, Christians should be more familiar with spiritual truth than political platforms. We should be known first and foremost for our doctrinal positions—which are often shallow or nonexistent. As we read in Romans above, it is better to be more familiar with the truth than be experienced in error. After all, “[Jesus Christ] gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:…” (Galatians 1:4). We should have our priorities straight. Sound Bible doctrine, once emphasized, will guard us against the lies of this evil world system.

Like James says, this world is opposed to Almighty God. Thinking like lost people is not for Christians. Let us see 1 John chapter 2: “[15] Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. [17] And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

No matter what happens, we need to remember, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof….”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Are we immune to heresy and apostasy?