333’s 4000th – To Keep That Good Thing

Friday, May 13, 2022

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us (2 Timothy 1:13,14 KJV).

Saints, only by God’s grace, for 4,000 days now, we have striven “to keep that good thing!”

Paul the Apostle wrote in 1 Timothy 6:20,21: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee.” Now, re-read today’s Scripture. In this second and final epistle, or formal doctrinal letter, to Timothy; Paul issued some parting instructions that we would do well to note. (Had the Church the Body of Christ actually obeyed these directions 2,000 years ago, there would be far less doctrinal error plaguing us right now!)

“Thing which was committed unto thee” and “that which is committed to thy trust” is the translation of “parakatatheken,” a compound Greek word composed of “para” (“with,” “alongside”) and “katatithemi” (“to place down”). The Lord Jesus Christ through Paul left with Timothy—and all other members of the Body of Christ—the principles of grace that are in effect today in the mystery program. If Timothy drew from the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, he would “keep” (guard from perversion or disrespect) that sacred deposit. Timothy was exhorted to be strict in his “holding fast” of sound Bible doctrine, not drifting around or “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). As the professing church continues to slip into more and more apostasy, darkness, and immaturity—and the Grace Movement itself is no exception—it is now more important than ever for us to be careful here at “333 Words of Grace.”

Dear brethren, over the course of 4,000 (!) daily devotionals now, we have followed the Lord’s instructions through Paul, making dispensational Bible truths plain to those interested in doing God’s will today. With that, we open our ninth 500-devotional unit. Thank you for your prayer and financial support, and now (only by God’s grace) we grow even more in sound Bible doctrine.

***NOTE: All former devotionals are archived here.***

Mother: A Virtuous Woman

Sunday, May 8, 2022

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10 KJV).

Today is Mother’s Day, so we dedicate this devotional to godly women (specifically mothers). I especially dedicate this to the virtuous woman who has been in my life for almost 34 years… my mom!

Today’s Scripture is the first verse of the Bible’s “Virtuous Woman” passage (Proverbs 31:10-31). King Solomon explained that the virtuous woman:

  • has a husband who safely trusts in her (verses 11,12).
  • is not lazy, but is strong because she works to feed and clothe her family and herself (verses 13-19,21,22,24,25,27).
  • pities the poor and needy (verse 20).
  • has a husband who is well-known because of her godly lifestyle (verse 23).
  • opens her mouth with wisdom, and speaks kindly and lovingly (verse 26).
  • has children and a husband who praise her (verse 28).
  • excels in what she does (verse 29).
  • has works that praise her (verse 31).

Verse 30 explains the virtuous woman is “a woman that feareth the LORD.”

The Apostle Paul wrote that godly women should: not slander/gossip, not be controlled by alcohol and emotions (sober minded), be teachers of good things, love their husbands and children, be cautious and modest, maintain the home, be “good,” and should obey (respect) their husbands… “that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5). A Christian woman, especially a mother, should be a virtuous woman in beliefs as well as in deed. She needs to set an example for her children (especially her daughters).

A Christian woman and/or Christian mother places her faith in this sound Bible doctrine, the indwelling Holy Spirit will then take that doctrine and transform her for God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Her mind will be renewed by sound Bible doctrine, and that will transform her outward activity (Romans 12:1,2).

Are you a Christian woman or Christian mother who desires to be the woman God intends you to be in Christ Jesus? Place your faith in this sound Bible doctrine, and God will take care of the rest!

 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO OUR READERS WHO ARE MOTHERS!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study with the same name. The Bible study can be read here or watched here.

Archived: “What does the Bible say about motherhood?

To Strike the Right Note

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

“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 KJV).

How can “the right note” be struck?

Once, a celebrated composer performed before a global audience tuning in by radio and television. Taking his seat at the piano, with hundreds of millions listening and watching, he nervously placed his hands on the keys and began playing. Everything was proceeding smoothly—until he hit the wrong key and his haunting song known around the world for decades suddenly sounded awful for a moment! He resumed playing as usual, but, near the end, he pressed yet another wrong key! Again, temporarily, his song sounded weird.

The above true story illustrates the Christian life. A beautiful melody is heard as we have victory over sin, for the Lord’s hands are playing perfectly. Then, our fingers push His fingers aside and we fumble with the keys. What an embarrassing disaster! An older man in Christ once asked a new believer, “Do you find it difficult to live the Christian life?” “Why,” the young man replied, “I certainly do!” The aged Christian wisely rejoined, “Not only is it ‘difficult,’ it is impossible, so you have to stop trying to live it! Only Jesus Christ can live His life!” From that day forward, that young man never forgot it—and he grew up to pass on that advice to me long ago (and, now, you can tell others!).

Father God never expects us to be sinless. As long as we are in these bodies of flesh, we always tend to insert our religious efforts to “enhance” the Christian life. It is here that we sound “off-key,” and rightly so. Let us remember today’s Scripture. Unless we have sound Bible doctrine stored up in the inner man and are walking by faith in it on a daily basis, we “quench [hinder, put out, obstruct] the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and thereby we “strike the wrong notes.” Only Jesus Christ can live the Christian life, so let us place our faith in Him and not ourselves. His fingers never hit the wrong keys!

We Are Just Men #5

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Corinthians 4:6 KJV).

If there is one thing that does not belong in the Christian’s life, it is that ugly sin of pride. Egos are at stake—and may we be willing to lose them!

The Lord, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, will judge or evaluate men’s ministries, meaning they themselves are not important or above suspicion (verses 1-5). Speaking on behalf of Apollos, Paul reminded the Corinthians how they (Paul and Apollos) viewed grace ministry. It was not about “I prefer Paul,” it was not about “I like Apollos,” it was not about “I fancy Cephas [Peter],” and it was not about “I choose Jesus’ earthly ministry.” These believers at Corinth were “puffed up for one against another” (today’s Scripture). Instead of following God’s pattern for this the Dispensation of Grace, and doing it humbly (!), they were proudly exalting mere men (Paul, Apollos, Cephas/Peter) and seeing them and their adherents as competitors or enemies.

As opposed to being so shallow-minded and spiritually juvenile, the Corinthians were (and we are!) to meekly adopt this principle: “Wherefore I beseech [beg, ask] you, be ye followers of me [Paul]…. Be ye followers of me [Paul], even as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 11:1). The operative words are “even as I also am of Christ.” It was Jesus Christ preached according to the mystery who ultimately mattered (1 Corinthians 3:10,11; cf. Romans 16:25,26)! God’s spokesman to them was not the Apostle Peter, and not Jesus during His earthly ministry. While Apollos was a ministry coworker of the Apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ had revealed the doctrine first and foremost to and through Paul (Galatians 1:11,12; Ephesians 3:1-3; Colossians 1:23-26). Apollos had learned grace doctrines from Paul’s friends, Aquila and Priscilla, whom Paul himself had first taught (Acts 18:1-3,24-28). We magnify Paul’s “office” or ministry, not Paul the man (Romans 11:13)!

Dear saints, remember: That ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written.”

We Are Just Men #4

Monday, March 21, 2022

“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Corinthians 4:6 KJV).

If there is one thing that does not belong in the Christian’s life, it is that ugly sin of pride. Egos are at stake—and may we be willing to lose them!

The Holy Spirit through Paul corrected the dear saints at Corinth in chapter 3: “[4] For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal [fleshly, worldly]? [5] Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? [6] I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. [7] So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” Who ultimately mattered was not Paul or Apollos (for they were just men); God was most important, for it was His words that Paul and Apollos preached and taught in Corinth.

Now, chapter 4, the context of today’s Scripture: “[1] Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. [2] Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. [3] 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. [4] For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. [5] Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” Concerning ministry, Paul neither evaluated himself nor depended on other people to properly assess him. He knew the Lord would do this one day—and for all saints (Apollos, the Corinthians, et cetera). Let us not think of men above that which is written….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What is the ‘train’ in 1 Kings 10:2?

We Are Just Men #3

Sunday, March 20, 2022

“And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Corinthians 4:6 KJV).

If there is one thing that does not belong in the Christian’s life, it is that ugly sin of pride. Egos are at stake—and may we be willing to lose them!

Corinth was just a two-day journey from Athens, the intellectual capital of the then-known world. Therefore, not surprisingly, Greek philosophy had infiltrated Corinth both before and after the Apostle Paul’s arrival. Human viewpoint, man’s wisdom, was a lingering problem that arrested the spiritual development of these Corinthian saints. The Holy Spirit issued frequent warnings about this in the opening three chapters of 1 Corinthians (but note particularly chapter 1, verse 17, all the way to the end of chapter 2). Philosophy—founded on heathen (natural-man, non-Christian) speculations—is definitely not the means whereby we obtain spiritual insight into God’s will and work. At the Judgment Seat of Christ, anything and everything in our soul incompatible with Pauline (sound) Bible doctrine will be considered “wood, hay, stubble” (worthless) and thus will be burned up (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-23)—a loss of Christian reward.

Although the Corinthian believers in Christ had access to the Word of God’s Grace, they were not using the indwelling Holy Spirit to properly interpret that material. God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom are two different languages, hopelessly unharmonious, the spirit of man being wholly incapable of discerning the words of the Spirit of God. “Educated” Apollos himself had to learn this in Acts 18:24-28, after being long-time behind concerning Divine revelation. Once converted to dispensational truth, he eventually became a valuable coworker of Paul in Corinth (see 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:4-6,22; 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 16:12). Alas, the Corinthians began gravitating toward Apollos the man, Paul the man, Peter (Cephas) the man, and Christ’s earthly ministry (see 1 Corinthians 1:12-16). These denominations sprung up because, as the natural or lost man operates, people were being followed instead of doctrine….

333’s 3900th – The Path to Maturation

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

“[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 KJV).

Dear saints and readers, only by God’s grace, “333 Words of Grace” celebrates its 3900th devotional today!

What is the Lord doing right now? Exactly what would He have us do at this moment? The average church member would likely give incorrect answers—or no answers at all. In fact, even most genuine Christians would find these questions challenging and intimidating. There are three reasons for Bible illiteracy.

Firstly, they really have no idea what the clear Gospel of Grace even is. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). Instead of this pure, straightforward message, they have heard various pseudo-gospels. “Make Jesus the Lord of your life, repent and turn to God, recite the ‘sinner’s prayer,’ confess your sins.” As long as they have an adulterated Gospel message, there is no adequate basis for faith or trust, so they remain dead in their trespasses and sins. Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, they lack spiritual discernment.

Secondly, they are not using the inspired, preserved words of God. In English, these are the words of the Authorized Version King James Bible. Unfortunately, they have believed the “scholars” and purchased some alleged “easier-to-read” contemporary English version—nothing but a perverted, natural-man, watered-down, ever-changing text that only the spiritually naïve value. The result is weak, confused, immature Bible students, aware of general “Divine thoughts” as opposed to trained in specific Divine words.

Finally, if they do they have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and do use the proper Bible text, they are not “study[ing]… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Since they have failed to recognize the dispensational distinctions God has placed in His Word, they have no clue concerning where they are in His purpose and program. They have not been told—or they refuse to see—the Apostle Paul is God’s spokesman to them (Romans 11:13), Romans through Philemon God’s words to and about them!

Brethren, over the course of these last 3900 days, we have striven here to correct all three deficiencies. Though we have come far, we still have a long way remaining. Onward to devotional #4000! 🙂

Scrooges and Christians

Thursday, December 16, 2021

“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

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

“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! 🙂

Confused Counsellors #2

Monday, November 22, 2021

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight (Luke 10:21 KJV).

Yea, the “wise and prudent” still lack insight into the things of Father God—and the “babes” are still able to perceive them.

Matthew 11:25,26 (Luke’s companion passage): “[25] At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. [26] Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Here (see context, verses 12-24), and in today’s Scripture (see context, verses 10-20), Jesus responds to unbelief and opposition to the truth. His three-year-long earthly ministry halfway over, He denounces three particular faithless cities wherein He did most of His mighty works (Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum). They cannot see the truth because they do not want to see it!

Now, Matthew 15:12-14: “[12] Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? [13] But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. [14] Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” These “blind leaders of the blind” are Israel’s tradition-worshipping religious leaders, whose unbelieving “scholarship” has influenced the whole nation to be apostate (fallen from the truth). Such people saw no need for Jesus, for they were “skilled” in all religious matters. How dare He come and teach them what their Hebrew Bible said (what they had been expected to believe but had not)!

The Holy Spirit remarks concerning such souls: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…” (Romans 1:21,22). Unfortunately, many such “fools” have been leading our churches and seminaries for two millennia, transmitting their natural-man thinking to us as ancient Israel’s leaders did to her….