Scrooges and Christians

Sunday, December 16, 2018

“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

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! 🙂

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! 🙂

Stand It As Long As You Can! #2

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:25-27 KJV).

Is anger ever appropriate?

Before we came to Christ, we were spiritually darkened (verses 17-19). In the Gospel of Grace, in Jesus Christ, we were enlightened (verses 20,21). Verses 22-24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Now read today’s Scripture.

Having escaped Satan’s dominion, “delivered from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), does it make sense for us to return to it? No! Therefore, when we see our Adversary using lies to work in our lives, we should be angered. Anger is not sinful if caused by the right reasons (see Matthew 5:22 and Mark 3:5). “Be ye angry, and sin not.” Today’s Scripture continues, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” While commonly taken to mean, “Do not go to bed angry, settle the dispute before sunset,” the more probable admonition is, “Do not let your non-sinful anger dissipate.” Brethren, if we do not constantly respond negatively toward sin—especially lying (see context)—it will dominate us. May we not soften our opposition to sin, for Satan will gain the advantage.

Righteous anger should cause us to deny sin (see Galatians 5:19-26). “Sin is not who I am! I am a saint of the Most High God, not a sinner!” We are not making ourselves holy; we are simply being whom Father God has made us in Christ (Romans 12:1,2). Whenever religious tradition obscures or refutes that truth, we should be angry and separate from the tradition, lest Satan keep entry to us. However, only Christian believers mature in grace fully grasp that. Until then, they will keep “experimenting” with their denominations. My advice to them is always, “Stand it as long as you can!” (It is their choice to flee, and I never make the decision for them.)

Stand It As Long As You Can! #1

Monday, November 19, 2018

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:25-27 KJV).

Is anger ever appropriate?

A dear brother in Christ just informed me that he was angry regarding the denominational church he was attending. He understands that it promotes almost no sound Bible teaching, but he has not yet formally divested from it. Like many Pauline dispensationalists endure at one time or another, he sits in “the trying transition” (I speak from experience).

As he has matured in God’s Word rightly divided, so false teaching has become more annoying to him. What he is hearing at church is often “Scriptural,” but it is not “dispensational” (and he knows it). He is conflicted inside: the flesh (old nature, or sin nature) gravitates toward the religious doctrine whereas the new nature cannot tolerate it. Read Galatians chapter 5: “[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. [17] For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” The Holy Spirit and our flesh—both natures residing in us Christians—fight. Both religious sins and worldly sins oppose the working of God the Holy Spirit within us.

The above struggle is an indication that Christians are indeed saved unto eternal life, possessing God’s life. No lost individuals would ever find themselves opposed to “being good” and “hearing nice words” at the local hotspot for the traditions of men. This will be most harsh, but let it be said. Denominations lie. Whether deliberate or oblivious, cruel or sincere, denominational preachers are doctrinally dishonest. They distort Israel’s verses, pretending like they are written to and about us, the Church the Body of Christ. Today’s Scripture declares most authoritatively that we should eliminate lying—both in our lives and in our pulpits! The mature grace saint will come to a crossroads at some point: leave the denomination altogether, or cave in to the overbearing pressure and compromise….

Bible Q&A #555: “Does John 15:6 discredit the notion of ‘once saved, always saved?’

333’s 2700th – The Pillar and Ground of the Truth

Sunday, October 21, 2018

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:14,15 KJV).

Dear brethren, only by God’s grace, devotional #2700 has arrived!

One faithful reader just commented—like others have through the years—that our studies are direct (to the point). There is little, if any, deviation from the study’s theme. Of course, this is all by design, as the author intended that from day 1! He knows that so many poor souls have been overwhelmed concerning Scripture. The way they have been taught to approach the Bible is exceedingly arduous, quite complicated, wholly confusing. He knows those frustrations firsthand, and has thus striven to help you, the readers, avoid as much of that spiritual darkness and superfluity as possible.

Friends, these past 2,700 days have been a real joy! 🙂 Such tremendous spiritual changes have occurred in us all, so praise our Lord Jesus Christ! Indeed, when we “just release the lion from his cage, he will defend himself.” We simply distributed God’s Word, and it took care of itself. Almighty God does not need us, but we have been given the privilege of sharing the Holy Scriptures with others. What an honor!

We the Body of Christ are “the house of God… the church of the living God” (today’s Scripture). His Holy Spirit lives in and through us as we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of His Word to us (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). We are “the pillar and ground of the truth.” As a “pillar,” we hold the truth up high, displaying it for all to see. We are the “ground” because we support, maintain, or undergird the truth. This is not a denominational system, organized religion, advocating pet doctrines and opinions of men; rather, it is the true Church the Body of Christ proclaiming the Word of Christ, that the Word of Christ might dwell in them richly (Colossians 3:16), that Christ might be formed in them (Galatians 4:19).

Thank you for your prayerful support. Onward now to higher ground, and devotional #2800! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is it sinful for women to wear makeup?

Seminary Silliness

Saturday, September 15, 2018

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9,10 KJV).

Recently, I noticed much verbosity, rambling, outright nonsense in a Bible commentary. When I looked on the book’s back cover, I discovered the author’s problem. His three seminary degrees afforded him no clear insight into Scripture!

Nevertheless, since he had to say something (or risk looking like a know-nothing), he used human philosophy to try to “explain” verses. How disastrous! If there is no indwelling Holy Spirit—as in a lost or unsaved person—then there is no capacity to understand the Bible. If the person is saved, but quenches or suppresses the Holy Spirit (by using human wisdom, religious tradition, et cetera), His teaching and enlightening ministry is reduced. Consequently, many Bible commentators, preachers, and teachers can read verses and still be in total spiritual darkness.

Human wisdom is no substitute for Divine understanding. First Corinthians chapter 2 continues after today’s Scripture: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

“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. But the natural [unsaved] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.”

“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” (Matthew 11:25).