Saved or Lost? #25

Sunday, September 25, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

They were really saved people, just thinking and acting like lost people. Such is still true of millions! Had God’s Word rightly divided actually been received and believed in the heart, we the Church the Body of Christ would be walking in God’s power and will: “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).

While the number of genuine Christians has always been low, the percentage of confused Christians has always been high. It is not that “Satan is so powerful,” but rather they have allowed his evil world system to place them into a mold of silly thoughts and unsightly deeds. The Holy Spirit wishes true believers in Christ heed His advice in Romans 12:1,2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren [Christians!!!], by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world [it can happen!!!]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We close with the following true story. Several years ago, I tried to prevent it but nevertheless witnessed it come to pass. It was the fall of my spiritual mentor, someone under whose ministry I trained for over a decade and whom I still love dearly in the Lord. The entire controversy was painful and devastating beyond words, but, lest I fall with that grace Christian leader, I had to separate from him because of his apostasy (willful doctrinal error and unapologetic dishonesty and treachery). Indeed, we will meet in Heaven and only then will we be restored to fellowship, two saved men whose ministries Satan’s evil world system targeted—one destroyed and the other still not immune from ruin!

-FINIS!-

Saved or Lost? #24

Saturday, September 24, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

The Apostle Paul’s last epistle (2 Timothy) communicates in chapter 4: “[1] I charge [instruct, order] thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant [ready, prepared] in season [convenient times], out of season [inconvenient times]; reprove [cause them to see], rebuke [criticize them], exhort [encourage, urge them] with all longsuffering [patience, put up with it, suffer it a long time!] and doctrine [teaching worth trusting].” Why?“[3] For the time will come when they will not endure [bear/tolerate/stomach] sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; [4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Timothy was (we are) to keep on with ministry (sound Bible teaching, Pauline, grace-oriented information), despite the prevalent doctrinal perversion and apostasy (forsaking the truth, whether in or out of churches). Saints, we should be willing to do what we can to reach confused Christians and confused non-Christians alike—and, yes, they are usually nearly impossible to distinguish from each other. I know it is easier to throw up our hands and give in, exclaiming, “This is just not worth it! No one wants to listen! We live in a hopelessly chaotic world! Let them all go to Hell in their ignorance!” Yet, the fact remains we have in sound Bible doctrine all the answers they need—and, if we escaped their errors, they can too… those few who want it. We should make special effort to be a light to them, if at all possible, particularly those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to believe.

Let us (finally) conclude this devotionals arc….

Saved or Lost? #23

Friday, September 23, 2022

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:19,20 KJV).

Are these people really saved—or really lost?

Scripture describes church leaders as God’s doorkeepers, watching over and guarding local assemblies from any and all error (re-read Acts 20:28-32!). If pastors, bishops, teachers, and preachers would believe and teach sound Bible doctrine (God’s Word rightly divided), false teaching (even non-rightly-divided verses) could be easily refuted. Neither these leaders nor their vulnerable congregants would be led astray.

Alas, for 20 centuries now, the professing church (especially its leadership) has paid almost no attention to the Lord’s special ministry through the Apostle Paul. Sure, they know of Paul, and a great many actually study and quote his writings, but nearly all people throughout church history have made Paul’s ministry a continuation of the 12 Apostles’ ministry, a mere commentator on “the church Jesus founded in Matthew to John,” an extension of the prophetic program, thereby hiding and destroying the very reason for Paul’s ministry (to operate the mystery program, separate and distinct from prophecy—to form the Church the Body of Christ, separate and distinct from the nation Israel).

For 2,000 years now, to Satan’s delight, we have wasted an unfathomable amount of time and energy teaching “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4)—too willful and proud to change our course even up to this present hour. Behold, the dismal results! So many souls profess “belief in Christ,” but it is extremely difficult to discern who is a confused Christian (bound for Heaven, yet thinking like someone headed to Hell) and who is a confused non-Christian (bound for Hell, and lacking discernment to realize it).

Verily, verily, the Lord reads the hearts of all, and He knows the difference between a true (albeit misinformed) member of the Body of Christ and just some lost member of a counterfeit group. Brethren, we need to make sure we are walking in the spiritual light that we have, for, if we are grateful, we will gain more understanding concerning God’s will for us.

Let us (finally) summarize this devotionals arc….

It Shall Prosper!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11 KJV).

Amen!

I just had a delightful phone conversation with a dear preacher and brother in Christ whose ministry has benefited me for several years. I estimated he was close to age 90 now, so when I asked him, he informed me that he was 94. Although his wife graduated to Heaven a few years back, he is still on Earth working in ministry as he is able. His memory is partially failing him, and while he had trouble remembering some of what he has taught in the past, he understood how he gave me some invaluable information that I have since passed on to our ministry audience. He was also encouraged to hear me remind him of today’s Scripture: God’s words will not return to Him void, but will prosper and achieve precisely what He wills. Whether we know it or not, saints, the Christian ministry is well worth it, and we can see just a small fraction of our impact. Before ending the call, I exhorted the brother to keep looking up for our Lord’s return to catch us away!

It is rather neat to think about how that preacher and I ever managed to benefit each other at all. Nearly 15 years ago, when I was a novice in ministry, a Christian co-laborer gave me an informative book that the preacher had written. Through the years, I emailed this preacher but never talked with him on the phone until a month ago. I called him back again more recently. We live quite far away from each other, there is a 60-year difference in age, and we have major theological disagreements (he is a member of my former denomination), but what unites us is our membership in the Church the Body of Christ. Had either one of us never trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we would more than likely have never known about each other. Yet, the Holy Spirit worked through one saint to get me to another saint, thereby allowing me to reach you, the saints, with the truths I have learned.

Preach with Conviction!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

“And all bare him [the Lord Jesus Christ] witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22 KJV).

Saints, may we preach with conviction!

Many years back, a man approached the pastor after church service and expressed the following observation: “You delivered your message with such conviction that you sounded like you actually believed what you said, like there was no alternate view.” The preacher replied, “If I thought and believed it was some other way, I would have taught it that other way!”

It is rather unfortunate, but that man had grown so accustomed to hearing ministers use the Bible flippantly or lightheartedly. For example, he was in the habit of hearing words to the effect of, “Some believe this verse means this, but others teach it means that, so you can pick and choose what you believe.” (To wit, the preacher is just as unskilled in the Word as his congregation!) Therefore, when the man heard a Spirit-filled preacher use the Scriptures solemnly and deliver an authoritative or well-founded sermon that actually made sense, he was rather shocked. (Likewise, so were the synagogue attendees when the Lord addressed them in today’s Scripture!)

Dear brethren, the preacher’s response encapsulates what should constitute our ministry. Lost people may be spiritually blind, but, sad to say, they are more willing to spot a religious hypocrite from a much farther distance than the average professing Christian. Just as we would not care to hear some boring speaker talk about a topic they have no real passion to teach, individuals know when someone is faking or guessing in the pulpit and they will thus turn away with increasing cynicism. By the tone of our voice, by the depth of our material, and by the authority with which we preach, our audience will know if we are sincere and actually trust what we exhort them to hear from us. If they can sense we doubt what we are telling them, they will fail to appreciate—yea, actually detest—the Scriptures and will see no reason to believe them either. Let us not be hypocrites in the church building… particularly in the pulpit!

Frozen in Death #5

Saturday, June 18, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Read Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14,20-26. On the Monday before His Thursday crucifixion, Christ Jesus was near Jerusalem when He encountered a fig tree “and found nothing thereon, but leaves only” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:13). Here was Israel’s religious system symbolized—advertising its superficial “greeneries” (alleged “life”) but, upon closer examination, utterly fruitless inside (spiritually dead and therefore useless to God)! In fact, this narrative of the fig tree is presented in conjunction with the Lord purging the polluted Jerusalem Temple of Satan’s emissaries (see Matthew 21:12-17 and Mark 11:15-19). You can also compare it to The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9, Christ seeking fruit (faith and good works) in national Israel but finding none during His three-year earthly ministry.

Let us ponder another illustration. Imagine a dead tree with bare branches, with neither leaves nor fruit. We can glue green leaves to it, and hang ripe fruit from it—but that nice external appearance does not detract from the fact that tree is lifeless. Religion is dead, so it cannot produce the life of God. Think of yet another analogy. We can take a dirty, dead battery and clean it with soap and water—but it is still powerless. Religion has no power, so it cannot produce the works of God.

Victorious Christian living occurs when we are strengthened with might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts by faith…” (Ephesians 3:16,17). If we are alive in Jesus Christ, it is His life, and He will produce fruit: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11). “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart(Ephesians 6:6). We learn and believe the principles of grace outlined in Romans through Philemon, thereby eschewing spiritual hypocrisy, duplicity, and immobility!

Frozen in Death #4

Friday, June 17, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

In Matthew chapter 15, the Lord Jesus censured the vain, hollow religious system corrupting His nation: “[7] Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah 29:13] prophesy of you, saying, [8] This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. [9] But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Also, the parallel passage, Mark chapter 7: “[6] He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. [7] Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Verily, they read and heard the Hebrew Bible during synagogue services every Saturday Sabbath. Doubtless, they sang excerpts from the Book of Psalms at their religious gatherings—including the feast days. “How we love God! Praise the LORD!” However, it was empty talk: there was no internal faith in their spiritual heart to correspond to the holy words proceeding from their physical lips. Their unbelief, refusing to trust Jesus as Christ during His earthly ministry, proved that was so. What is far more important is the heart attitude, a love for the LORD’S Book and a sincere quotation of its teachings, not blindly following religious “authorities” who simply and mindlessly utter sound waves for religious duty’s sake!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). It is the Word of God’s Grace—His Bible rightly divided—that we trust and then apply to our daily lives, the resultant joy manifesting itself in songs. Here is how we avoid boarding the “frozen ship….”

Frozen in Death #3

Thursday, June 16, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Christ denounced Israel’s religious leaders during His earthly ministry: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:25-28).

Religion emphasizes formalism, adhering to rules and regulations so as to produce a desired outward appearance (but ignoring the inside—a heart of faith). Consider Jesus’ illustrations. Think of washing a cup’s outside, but leaving its inside dirty (and the inside, where the drink goes, is the more important surface!). Imagine cleaning the dish’s bottom, but letting its top remain filthy (and the top, where the food is placed, is the more important surface!). The Jews of the first century scrubbed and painted graves bright white so as to clearly demarcate the location of “unclean” corpses (see Numbers 19:11,16 for the reason). Even though these tombs had a delightful exterior, what really mattered was the disgusting interior: within were human remains decomposing because of sin! What seemed righteous on the outside was actually unrighteous on the inside.

Let us remember the “frozen ship” that we read about earlier. We can be active with our church and ministry programs, conferences, schools, and all the rest. Yet, is it empty works-religion (our spiritually-dead flesh impersonating Jesus Christ) or sound Bible doctrine (the indwelling Holy Spirit working in and through us as we who are alive in Christ walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us)? It can either be “broken cisterns, that can hold no water,” or “the fountain of living waters.” The choice is ours….

Frozen in Death #2

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

The Holy Spirit through the Prophet Jeremiah faults the people of Judah on the grounds of two grievances. Firstly, they have deserted the LORD God, “the fountain of living waters.” Of course, this means He is the source of spiritual life—just as He is the origin of physical life. They declined whatever spiritual nourishment He could provide them. Secondly, they have replaced Him with something of their own efforts: “they have… hewed [cut] them out cisterns.” These reservoirs or containers “can hold no water,” so whatever they have done has been in vain. No matter how hard the sinner tries, he or she cannot substitute or replace the living God: “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit” (verse 11).

In other words, the Jewish people were dead spiritually—not only individually, but corporately or nationally. They were without “water.” However, to be sure, from all outward appearances, they were quite religious. The LORD, in chapter 1, verse 16, of Jeremiah, stated: “And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” Chapter 2, verse 32: “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” They were too busy with idols to give JEHOVAH God any attention! Like the aforementioned “frozen ship,” they were drifting along—but were as lifeless as could be.

An evangelist once remarked: “I have been to churches where they have not had a controversy there in 20 years. Those churches are dead!” Again, they are also wandering or moving (“having a form of godliness;” 2 Timothy 3:5), but inside, there is no living God to impart spiritual life to them….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus 50 years old during His earthly ministry?

Frozen in Death #1

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 KJV).

What priceless lesson can we learn from today’s Scripture?

Let us read it in context: “[8] The priests said not, Where is the LORD? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit. [9] Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead. [10] For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. [11] Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. [12] Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. [13] For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.The problem, of course, is pagan idolatry amongst the Jewish people. (We will come back to this later.)

More than a century and a half ago, a curious ship was found drifting amongst the icebergs of the Arctic Ocean. As the vessel was searched, the bodies of all the crewmembers were discovered frozen to death. Some were still in their hammocks; others were in the cabin. The captain’s corpse still held the log-book, for he had been writing the last entry—13 years before! Imagine that. For more than a decade, that ship floated aimlessly in a sea of ice… its crew all frozen dead. It was described as “a drifting sepulchre, manned by a frozen crew.” Someone then posed a controversial question to prove a point: Are there not churches in like condition?

Our modern “drifting sepulchre” churches match ancient Judah in the Prophet Jeremiah’s day over 600 years before Christ….