Scrooges and Christians

Monday, December 16, 2019

“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.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing #5

Saturday, December 7, 2019

“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! 🙂

Weirdoes #6

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:3,4 KJV).

Brethren, we may be unfairly judged of other Christians and/or the world, but the final verdict will come of the Lord.

First Corinthians chapter 3 admonishes the Corinthians to immediately cease their involvement with pagan philosophy. Like most church members today, they had not been careful in their edification. Bad doctrine—non-Pauline teaching—had severely arrested their spiritual development!

“[10] According to the grace of God which is given unto me [Paul], as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed [beware!!!] how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 

“[16] Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [17] If any man [false teacher!] defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. [18] Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. [19] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. [20] And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. [21] Therefore let no man glory in men….”

Rather than “glory in men,” praising man’s “wisdom” (philosophy), we listen to God’s wisdom….

But He Has a Doctorate!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV).

He may have a doctorate… but does he listen to the Holy Spirit?

Recently, I counseled with a highly confused Christian. Almost 40 years after trusting Christ, she still has not been stabilized in sound Bible doctrine! Her mind was greatly scrambled by various wild ideas. When I asked her to turn to a specific verse and read it, she replied, “Oh, I know that verse,” and then she proceeded to quote another verse! This dear soul is just one of two billion church members so thoroughly deceived in Christendom. They read books about the Bible, but do not read the Bible. If they have read Scripture, it is little snippets here and there—read while wearing denominational eyeglasses. Refusing to let the Holy Spirit teach them, they approach God’s Word with countless assumptions and misconceptions.

I was honest with that poor lady: “Your preacher is not telling you the truth, and you know it. He has hidden truths from you, concepts I just shared with you by having you read Bible verses.” Earlier, she defended her pastor by rebutting, “He has a doctorate! He has been to seminary!” After our discussion, she began to see that “seminary” is often nothing but a Bible cemetery! Here is another common fallacy worth correcting. The first qualification for a preacher is not a seminary diploma—or even a high school diploma for that matter! Any human Bible teacher must first have the real Bible Teacher: the indwelling Holy Spirit is the only ultimate Instructor in the Holy Scripture.

A man led by his flesh, a man not submitting to the Holy Spirit, has no business whatsoever teaching the Bible. It does not matter if he can speak and read Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic. It does not matter if he has been a missionary to 80 countries. It does not matter if he has water baptized 50,000 people. It does not matter if 35,000 individuals attend his church services every week. Brethren, we must stop thinking about ministry like lost people. Let us heed the warnings of 1 Corinthians chapter 2—and fast!!

Bible Q&A #660: “Who or what are the 10 ‘toes’ or ‘horns’ or ‘crowns’ associated with the Antichrist?

Pay Attention to Aid Retention

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13 KJV).

Friend, have you ever wondered what you would do if someone needed help finding something in the Bible? Were you afraid you would not be able to find the verse you were looking for? Well, unless you suffer from an “aging mind,” this forgetfulness can be mitigated.

The fact is, if you have not spent enough personal (quiet!) time in the Word, then you will be unskillful in the Word. Owning a Bible is one thing, but becoming familiar with and understanding it is a whole different matter. The Holy Spirit will work in us, but only if we first have His Word in us. God does not “magically” place His doctrine in us—whispering in our ear, spontaneously planting thoughts in our mind, causing inner impressions, and so on. Christian knowledge comes only by opening the Bible, reading and comparing verses, and then grasping conclusions that ultimately become an adequate basis for faith.

As we keep reading God’s Word daily, we will become increasingly accustomed to what it says and where it says it. Locating verses with specific words or phrases is actually not that difficult when we have read them enough beforehand. The Holy Spirit takes what we have already read and He brings it to our memory so it fits with specific situations. Of course, if we have never read the Bible for ourselves, or use it sparingly, then there is little to no Scriptural information in us for Him to use. It is not (!) God’s fault!

If all we go to “church” for is to sing, dance, and engage in idle chitchat and hearing of stories, then it will be no surprise when we find ourselves biblically-illiterate at the time we need Divine knowledge the most. Today’s Scripture underscores three components to a God-honoring ministry—(1) reading the Bible, (2) urging or encouraging the saints therein, and (3) communicating Divine information worthy of their trust. Without all three, Christians will simply be spiritually clueless and crippled. If, however, we expose ourselves to God’s Word, if we pay attention to it, then the chances increase that we will recollect more of it! 🙂

The War with Amalek! #11

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Dear brethren, having trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have passed from Adam to Christ, death to life, Hell-bound to Heaven-bound. But, why did God bother to save us? Why not let us go on to our deserved eternal damnation? Ephesians 2:10 explains: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” He desired to do a mighty work. We werewe are—His work. He worked to save us from Hell, to the intent that He would work in and through us to express His life in and through us. It is His words that “effectually work” in us who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

Galatians chapter 5: “[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…. [24] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” How do we “walk in the Spirit?” We read and believe Pauline doctrine. The indwelling Holy Spirit will take that doctrine and work in us, and we will thus walk in accordance with it.

The heart of grace living is thus: since we belong to Jesus Christ, our sin nature has been crucified with Him (Romans chapter 6), and now we believe the Holy Spirit’s words about our new identity in order to have victory over daily sins (Romans chapter 8). Sin does not have to dominate us: “For he that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). We have now been resurrected with Christ “to walk in newness of life” (verse 4). Read Romans chapters 6 through 8: they are the key to successful Christian living. Read chapters 12 through 16: they are specific examples of grace living. Read Ephesians chapter 4, Colossians chapter 3, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Titus. Here are “the things of the Spirit” that we are to “mind,” the teachings on which we should concentrate. Like Israel, we can win the fight with “Amalek….”

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

The War with Amalek! #10

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 KJV).

What is this war with Amalek all about? Can we make application?

Prayer occurs when we talk (silently or audibly) to Almighty God about our life in light of His Word to us. Knowing where to go in the Bible to learn that information—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon—is the first step to productive Christian thought and living. Due to denominational teaching and religious confusion, however, very few believers ever discover how to use the Scriptures “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). Hence, their thinking and conduct are anything and everything but Christian!

After we do approach the Bible dispensationally, we must believe those verses and apply them to life by faith. First Thessalonians 2:13: “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.” The challenge after believing the verses is to discern how they relate to our specific situations. Unless we believe what Pauline doctrine says about employment, marriage, parenting, and managing money wisely, God’s words through Paul will not profit us. God’s Word will “effectually work” only in those who believe it!

Romans chapter 8: “[26] Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” One role of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to take His words that we read and believe, and then, as we pray, adjust our thinking so that our words to Father God better align with His words to us. We thus pray according to God’s will (but, unless we believe the verses dispensationally, we will not know how to pray the Pauline way!!).

Therefore, prayer is how we allow the Holy Spirit to reinforce in our minds the Bible concepts He taught us when we read the Scriptures earlier….