Zealous, But Ignorant #3

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

“Then said Ahimaaz the son of Zadok yet again to Joab, But howsoever, let me, I pray thee, also run after Cushi. And Joab said, Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready? But howsoever, said he, let me run. And he said unto him, Run. Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran Cushi” (2 Samuel 18:22,23 KJV).

What valuable ministry advice can we derive from here, 30 centuries later?

There are many passionate souls in religion, excited to fulfill the demands of their particular group, sect, cult, or denomination. They are fervent in their belief in “God”… whatever that means. Unbelieving Israel during the Acts period was the same way: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-3). Although busy in religion, they had no spiritual light. It was all about their performance (self-righteousness), and they were so distracted they completely missed God’s righteousness. Their activities were the flesh, not the Spirit of God, and thus futile. Let us be careful to avoid this trap!

Furthermore, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). When appointing people to the ministry, we should be looking for souls able to teach sound Bible doctrinenot simply individuals who have “a burning desire” to do something important. If they do not have information ready, if they have not prepared themselves in the Scriptures via personal dispensational Bible study, their ministries will be as inadequate and embarrassing as that of Ahimaaz. Beloved, may we ourselves carry and deliver messages of spiritual substance, and not simply engage in outward activity!

Reverend

Thursday, July 15, 2021

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name (Psalm 111:9 KJV).

Long ago, when I was denominational and silly, I referred to pastors as “reverend.” It was ignorance, plain and simple, a church tradition that I—like billions of others—had never investigated. Then, a Christian brother showed me today’s Scripture. How enlightening! In all the King James Bible, “reverend” appeared once—an adjective for the LORD and not a man (or woman)!

Frankly, when we apply the title “reverend” to someone other than God, we are quite close to blasphemy—if not actually guilty of it. To say it in reference to a person means he or she inspires reverence: the individual awes us, and we have a godly fear toward him or her. This is certainly strange and nonsensical—but, not surprisingly, religion abounds with oddities and absurdities. How egos are stroked, how pride is gendered, when we cry out that flattering title, “Reverend!” (The inflated positions of “right reverend,” “very right reverend,” and “most reverend” are even more ridiculous.)

If we want to address someone in a church setting as “brother,” “sister,” “pastor,” “teacher,” “evangelist,” or “elder,” these are suitable titles. However, we should avoid using “father” in a religious sense, for this is wholly unacceptable (calling a priest “father” is a remnant of Baal/idol worship—Judges 17:10; Judges 18:19; Matthew 23:9). Apostles and prophets were necessary to form the foundation of the Body of Christ, but the completed revelation of the Scriptures has now taken their places (cf. Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 3:16,17). To use “apostle” or “prophet” to refer to someone alive today is to challenge the Bible’s authority.

Today’s Scripture delineates God’s goodness in fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant via the New Covenant. Israel, now redeemed, is enjoying Millennial Kingdom living. In accordance with His “holy” (set apart, sanctified) and “reverend” name (inspiring awe or fear), verse 10 closes the Psalm: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” In closing, remember Psalm 99:3: “Let them praise thy great and terrible [same Hebrew as “reverend” in today’s Scripture] name; for it is holy.”

To Savour the Flavour of the Saviour #5

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men (Mark 8:33 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture and its context teach us about Satan’s policy of evil?

“Savour” means “give oneself to the enjoyment of, appreciate to the full, set affection on, place interest in.” Jesus’ “flavour” was the “indication of His essential character;” that is, He had fully given Himself over to delighting in working with His Heavenly Father. When we savour the flavour of the Saviour, we are thinking in accordance with the Head of the Church the Body of Christ: after all, His mind should govern us! (Recall Romans 8:5, Philippians 2:5, and Colossians 3:2.)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, 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: 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” (Romans 12:1,2). As the perfect Man, the Lord Jesus Christ exhibited this lifestyle during His earthly ministry. Consequently, Satan attacked Him by using the sinful world system around Him. In fact, the Adversary even used Peter, Christ’s chief Apostle of Israel. Never forget today’s Scripture!

Brethren, the application we can make here is quite simple. If we are working with our Heavenly Father in the “family business”—the grace ministry—we can be absolutely (!) sure (!) Satan will use whomever or whatever he can to distract, discourage, and destroy us. Whether fellow Christians (even beloved pastors and fellow grace saints!), spouses, sons and daughters, or dear friends, if they are not submissive to the aforementioned renewed mind; they will become Satan’s mighty vessels in causing us to stumble in sin (apostasy and/or carnality). Still, we follow Christ’s pattern in today’s Scripture. He was not sidetracked from the Father’s plan: “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8)! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does ‘noisome’ mean?

Shine

Friday, July 2, 2021

“[The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14 KJV).

Christian friend, there are at least two reasons people have distasteful feelings about “church.”

Firstly, having a sin problem, the mere thought of any “higher power” reminds them of the Creator whom they will eventually face in judgment! “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:…” (Romans 1:18-20). Avoiding dealing with their sins, they contrive defenses: “There is no God, no afterlife, no Heaven or Hell.” They have conveniently “forgotten” what they know to be true!

Secondly, it does not seem they are angry at Christianity per se. Rather, their ire stems from their misperception of it. They saw something hypocritical in a church setting and assumed that was Christianity. Unfortunately, what they beheld was vain religion and nothing more. Actually, they likely never understood the Scriptures in the first place. Yet, they concluded that jumble of thoughts was a fair and adequate assessment of the Bible. “Look at all these contradictions and mistakes! I do not believe the Bible!” Concerning the scoffers with whom I have dealt through the years, nearly all of them did not even have a working knowledge of the Scriptures. They were just repeating what someone else said—and that “someone else” was just as clueless about the verses as the one reiterating the matter!

In sharing the Gospel of Grace with others, we cannot avoid the “offensive message” that Jesus Christ is the only answer to their sin problem. However, let us endeavor to be Christians skilled in the Scriptures and full of good works—that they know the immense value of what they are rejecting. Remember, unless we prove we have something of worth, we cannot expect someone else to want it!

Separated!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 KJV).

Disgusted with local assemblies he has visited these last 30 years, a dear Christian brother voiced his frustration: “I am finished with churches!” In the future, such disgust just might cause him to embrace dispensational Bible study that he has bitterly opposed this past decade. Like an increasing number of church members from various denominations, he sees Christendom is hopelessly incorrigible.

To wholly purge every group of sectarian bias is impractical in this life; it will only be accomplished once Christ returns to deliver genuine believers (now in Heaven, thus no longer confused) and comes to punish unbelievers (Earth finally rid of false doctrine, pagan religion, philosophy). Until then, brethren, if we are to serve Jesus Christ, we must separate from organized religion (if we have not already done so). Denominations, sects, and cults are all polluted with man’s opinions to varying degrees. There is no perfect church, that we freely confess; rather, we seek a pure church.

If we cannot find a pure local church to attend, then we should start one ourselves in our home. The day is coming—and, whether we want to admit it or not, it is true—when the Christian church even in the United States of America will have to go “underground.” Governmental agencies will attack the most prominent groups: megachurches will be disbanded and shuttered, yet, that will not be detrimental, for sound Bible doctrine has survived without them anyway. What will remain is innumerable home grace churches, whose focus all along was sound teaching instead of formalism-upholding… institution-building… theological system-forming… edifice-constructing… social club-joining… bu$ine$$-managing.

Bible Q&As #854 and #855: “What does ‘brutish’ mean?” and “Is ‘should’ a mistranslation in Romans 6:4?

A Radical Change

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9,10 KJV).

Genuine faith in Christ should produce good works!

Not long ago, a new Christian—just a few years old in the Lord—told me how people who knew him as a lost man can certainly see a difference in his lifestyle now. He did not elaborate on his former sins, and it was none of my business anyway, but even he sees the simple truth of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

The Thessalonians of today’s Scripture were once pagan idolaters; however, Paul visited them in Acts chapter 17, preached the Gospel of Grace to them, and they passed from death to life. Such new life in Christ was to produce fruit. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;….” Interpreting this verse in light of today’s Scripture, we can recognize “work of faith” corresponds to “ye turned to God from idols,” “labour of love” is “serve the living and true God,” and “patience of hope” matches “wait for his Son from heaven.” Here are saints walking in their identity in Christ (Romans chapters 6-8), a rare occurrence in both the Bible and today.

Alas, then we encounter the Corinthians in the Bible record. Even a casual reading of Paul’s two epistles to Corinth leaves us with the impression these “Christians” are still unsaved and dead in trespasses and sins! No, as difficult as it seems, they are alive in Christ, possessors of eternal life: unfortunately, they have largely continued to live just like they were before they came to faith in Christ. Such an awful state of affairs besets the professing Body of Christ even now. We would do well to follow the “ensample” of the Thessalonians!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If meat-eating occurred only after the Flood, who was eating the animal sacrifices prior?

When I Know Your State

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state (Philippians 2:19 KJV).

Today’s Scripture is an example of ancient “distance learning….”

Writing his Epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul is in prison in Rome (cf. Philippians 1:7,13,14,16), over 600 miles (965 kilometers) to the east. There are no cell phones, computers, emails, text messages, social-media platforms, or television sets to instantly convey news among God’s people. Hence, one of Paul’s distresses was how to speedily learn of his converts’ progress—or lack thereof—in sound (grace) Bible doctrine (cf. Philippians 1:25-30).

After enumerating his various ministry difficulties (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), he added: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (verse 28). Overseeing the Christian assemblies scattered throughout the Roman Empire was exhausting, particularly since false teachers lurked everywhere and sought to corrupt these new believers in Christ with legalistic doctrines: “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:… For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter [Satan] have tempted you [with false doctrine and persecution!], and our labour be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:1,2,5).

Closing Colossians, chapter 4, Paul wrote: “[7] All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: [8] Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; [9] With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.” Tychicus and Onesimus would be the couriers, bringing this very Epistle to Colosse, informing the Colossians of Paul’s situation in Rome. Similarly, as today’s Scripture indicates (cf. verses 23,24), Paul would send Timothy to Philippi with news, and Timothy would report back to Paul. Paul intended to be released and visit Philippi, but it is unclear if that transpired. Epaphroditus was the courier of Philippians (2:25,28,29).

“Christianettes” #10

Saturday, June 12, 2021

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1 KJV).

How can we prevent ourselves from being “Christianettes?”

The Holy Spirit’s deliberate arrangement of Paul’s epistles in the canon of Scripture—Romans first and Philemon last—brings successive waves of doctrine, reproof, and correction. All is “instruction in righteousness,” Christian living. To move from childish/simplistic thinking to adult/critical thinking, one must be taught increasingly deeper concepts. However, since any teaching, especially sound Bible teaching, can be found in so few Christian institutions and assemblies, spiritual babies abound instead of grownups. If they are reading Scripture, it is usually not the Dispensation of Grace but rather a non-Pauline/tradition assortment or Pauline/non-Pauline/tradition hybrid.

Christendom often appeals to Matthew through John, Christ’s earthly ministry, attempting to force those passages onto us. Yet, Christ ministered to Israel only (Matthew 15:24) on the basis of Jewish covenants (Romans 15:8), including the Mosaic Law (Galatians 4:4). However, Christ through Paul says to us: “Ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14,15). We know Jesus today, not through His earthly ministry to Israel, but rather through His heavenly ministry to us Gentiles via Paul’s apostleship: “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” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

Alas, as early as the A.D. first century, the Body of Christ had forsaken Pauline doctrine (grace): “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15). Evidently, they preferred legalism (Mosaic Law)—precisely the sentiments of nearly all churches today! Satan’s evil world system is responsible for such ignorance, but the pastors and teachers who should have guarded their local assemblies are not without blame. Brethren, unless we expel the spiritual babies from our seminaries and pulpits, and return to the Apostle Paul’s pattern for edification, the professing church has absolutely no hope of being victorious over its constant sins, false teaching, and impotence.

Only saints mature in grace can do the work of the grace ministry… and only Paul’s epistles will bring us from the status of carnal “Christianettes” (babes) to spiritual Christians (adults) (1 Corinthians 14:37,38)! 🙂

“Christianettes” #9

Friday, June 11, 2021

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1 KJV).

How can we prevent ourselves from being “Christianettes?”

“God wants the very best for you!” “It is a sin to be sick and poor!” “Jesus wants you to fulfill your dreams!” As ear-tickling and motivational as they sound, the shallow, puerile dictums of modern Christendom are void of God’s wisdom for the Dispensation of Grace. They do not provide us with any victory over sin or insight into the Lord’s current dealings with man.

Contrariwise, 2 Timothy chapter 3 informs: “[16] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” “Doctrine” is teaching we are to believe: Romans (basic), Ephesians (advanced), and 1 and 2 Thessalonians (super-advanced) fit here. “Reproof” identifies what we are doing wrong: these are 1 and 2 Corinthians (basic) and Philippians (advanced). “Correction” tells us how to adjust erroneous thinking: Galatians (basic) and Colossians (advanced) go here. Again, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon are guides to administering a local grace assembly. Even the layout of Paul’s 13 epistles, from Romans all the way through Philemon, brings the saint from spiritual infancy to full adulthood.

The Corinthians and Galatians knew Pauline truth, but they did not appropriate it by faith. Read 1 Corinthians and Galatians. These are some sinful saints, especially in Corinth! A believer without edification is actually a child of God who thinks and behaves like a child of Satan. Such souls are no threat to the Devil; they may not be going to Hell any longer, but they are still his vessels to send many millions there in their place. Their lack of spiritual growth inhibits them from sharing a clear Gospel message and other Bible teaching: too confused to clearly articulate what they believe, any lost people they could have potentially reached stay lost, and any fellow Christians they could have possibly taught remain ignorant. Whoever is watching them responds, “Whatever that ‘Christian’ believes, I want no part in it! Let me stay in my world religion, philosophy, non-Christian worldview, et cetera.” If we follow Pauline edification, that will not be said of us!

Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Acts 19:13-16?

“Christianettes” #8

Thursday, June 10, 2021

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1 KJV).

How can we prevent ourselves from being “Christianettes?”

Christ Jesus asserted: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (John 13:20). As He sent the 12 Apostles to be His spokesmen in the prophetic program, so He sent Paul to be His spokesman in the mystery program. Under the Holy Spirit’s leadership, Paul thus declared: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Romans 11:13).

First and foremost, the Apostle Paul reveals “my gospel,” the initial step to being “stablished” or stabilized (Romans 16:25,26). “The Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24) is clearly defined in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you,…. [3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; [4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”

Romans, Paul’s first epistle in the canon of Scripture, describes the Gospel of Grace by which we receive forgiveness, justification, sanctification, redemption, eternal life, et cetera. His next three epistles—1 and 2 Corinthians plus Galatians—expand on Romans and correct any misconceptions or confusions. Most church members, if they ever (!) grasp Romans through Galatians, never get beyond here. Remember, the Corinthians and Galatians failed to learn and apply Romans truth!! Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians are a higher plane of understanding.Very few gain this maturity, “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery” being the second step to establishment as per Romans 16:25,26. Finally, 1 and 2 Thessalonians are “the scriptures of the prophets:” all of the Bible in light of Pauline revelation. Practically no one gets to this final phase of maturity (Romans 16:25,26). Paul’s last four epistles—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—are handbooks for running the local church efficiently, also rarely mastered.

Following the Lord’s pattern through Paul, as shown here, we avoid becoming “Christianettes….”