Only What is Done By Christ

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11 KJV).

“One day this life will soon be passed, only what is done by Christ will last.”

A Christian preacher’s obituary publicized how he had attended three seminaries and earned a doctorate in theology. In his lifetime, he taught at several seminaries and colleges, and pastored numerous local churches. He enjoyed training men and women for the ministry, with his hundreds of students becoming missionaries, preachers, and seminary teachers. Moreover, he led 30 tours to “the Holy Land.” His four sons were pastors, and his daughter married a pastor. Certainly, much was achieved—but was it Christ in him?

Our human viewpoint has its limitations. Indeed, we can evaluate their performance by comparing it to a denomination’s checklist. They were water baptized, confessed their sins, founded or joined local churches, studied theology books, traveled to foreign lands as “missionaries,” memorized prayers, taught religion classes, visited homes to distribute “inspirational literature,” and so on. According to the denomination, they are in a right standing before God. However, the Lord looks beyond outward performance; He stares right down into the person’s very heart. What He wants to see is faith in His words, Holy Scripture, and, unless it is trust in an intelligent understanding of His Word to us, it is but sinful flesh striving to copy the life of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, while the aforementioned preacher had a testimony of forgiveness of sins and eternal security in Christ, he was nevertheless a vehement Bible corrector. As always, we will let the Lord judge his malicious comments concerning Scripture. However, we do know that being indoctrinated with naturalistic textual criticism and manmade traditions is no substitute for the renewed mind and its resultant victorious Christian living. One can be saved and on his or her way to Heaven, but still think and behave ridiculously—even outright teaching false doctrine.

Never forget, dear friends, “One day this life will soon be passed, only what is done by Christ will last.” Our “hustle and bustle” in religion will amount to nothing. Only (!) what (!) Jesus (!) Christ (!) does (!) in (!) us (!) has (!) eternal (!) value (!).

Redeem the Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2023

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV).

What great advice for 2023!

Despite 2,000 years of Bible schools and seminaries, 2,000 years of a completed Bible canon, 2,000 years of Bible reading in churches, several decades of “Christian” television and radio, and just over a decade of widespread use of “Christian” websites, how sad that Bible ignorance is still quite extensive (it is as if God never gave His Word to start with!).

Frankly, the Church the Body of Christ needs to wake up! The verse previous to today’s Scripture says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (verse 14). Paul, loosely quoting Isaiah 60:1, reminded us that the spiritual ignorance that gripped Israel in Isaiah’s day seized Christians in his day—and it still grips Christians 20 centuries later. Feel-good sermons, enjoyable “worship” services, and rites, rituals, and ceremonies will NOT solve this problem—they exacerbate it!

“[God] will have all men to be saved…” (1 Timothy 2:4a). Do you want this New Year to count for God’s glory? First, you need to get saved from sins and hell! You need to become a Christian by trusting in and relying on Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is only part of God’s will for you, for 1 Timothy 2:4b continues, “[God] will have all men… to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Now, God’s will for your Christian life is daily, personal Bible study to renew your mind, so your faith in those verses can cause God to work in your life—it will be His life, thus making you “perfect [spiritually mature], throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

Today’s Scripture urges us to buy back the time Satan has robbed from God (time created for God’s glory). By faith, we need to make that time glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by applying His Word, particularly Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon, to our lives. Have a good year in Christ! 🙂

You can download our free “One-Year Bible Reading Schedule.”

See our archived Bible Q&A: “What Scriptural advice can you give me for the New Year?

That I Might Save Some of Them #4

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Dear brethren in Christ, the Apostle Paul never realized his ministry would last 2,000 (!) years, that God would extend His grace, mercy, and peace to all people without distinction for 20 centuries. Despite the persecution, his ministry was not a waste of time after all, was it? Has it not eternally touched and benefited even us?

We are not omniscient (all-knowing), so we can never really gauge with certainty whom we are impacting with the Holy Bible and our testimony. For example, as we share sound doctrine electronically (online written studies and videos, especially through social media) and/or physically (Bible and Gospel tract distribution, Christian literature circulation), there is no practical way to estimate just whom that information will reach or may already be reaching. Imagine those tremendous implications.

Leave a Gospel tract in a public place. Potentially, not only will one soul read it and believe its verses, he or she might share it with 100 others (and you will know nothing about it!). Maybe a pastor of thousands will be reached, and he will broadcast those Bible verses to his congregation. You might post an online Bible study video, receive just a few “likes,” and assume you made little to no difference. However, what you do not know is the countless people who saw and accepted that information in secret (if they were to publicly admit it by “liking” it would jeopardize their social status!). What you will never learn until you get to Heaven is the hundreds, thousands, or millions of souls the Lord used you to reach—“strangers” from around the world, to whom you ministered via videos and books, people you influenced decades (or even centuries) after your death!

Overall, though, we do not endeavor to save “most” or even “many” people from their spiritual error (blindness, darkness, impotence, immaturity). We conduct our grace ministries as the Holy Spirit enables, “if by any means… [we] might save some of them.”

That I Might Save Some of Them #3

Monday, November 21, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Writing during the Acts period, Paul lamented in Romans chapter 10, verses 1-3: “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.” Before coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul himself had been a fanatical works-religion man (even a leader) for many years in Judaism, so, as Saul of Tarsus, he was most familiar with self-righteous people who assumed they did not need the Saviour (see Acts 22:1-3, Acts 26:1-11, and Philippians 3:1-11).

Re-read Acts 9:20; Acts 13:5,14; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:1-4,10,11,17; and Acts 18:4,5. These are some of the passages that feature Paul’s “provoking” ministry to apostate Israel (it actually covered Acts chapters 9–28). When lost Jews saw and heard Paul exercising their (Israel’s) spiritual gifts amongst the Gentiles (speaking in tongues, physical healing, and so on—see 2 Corinthians 12:12), that indicated to lost Israel that God had moved from them (lost Israel) and gone to Gentiles through Paul’s ministry! If these lost Jews were receptive to Paul’s miracles and message, they too would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Paul himself had: they would have to become like Paul’s Gentile converts (believe the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, thereby joining the Church the Body of Christ). However, as the Book of Acts bears out, Jewish opposition against Paul intensified, until his horrendous final pronouncement of Acts 28:25-28 (read verses 17-29 for the context).

Yet, always remember, Paul’s Acts ministry was not a waste, for it had numerous Jewish converts (see Acts 13:43; Acts 17:1-4,10-12; Acts 18:7-11; Acts 19:15-18; Acts 28:23,24). Likewise, though our ministry endeavors seem fruitless, hopeless, and pointless, we never know whom the Lord is reaching….

That I Might Save Some of Them #2

Sunday, November 20, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

Indeed, the believer’s ministry usually appears to be a waste of time. For example, the Lord Jesus taught a transdispensational (across the dispensations) truth that there is always a believing remnant, never 100% of audiences trusting God’s words. “Enter ye in at the strait [narrow] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). There was just a believing remnant in Israel, a little flock” of saints (Luke 12:32), a small body of Jews who had recognized Jesus as their Messiah/Christ!

Actually, after three full years of the Lord’s earthly ministry, there were simply 120 believers in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15). Where were the several thousands He fed in Matthew 14:21 and Matthew 15:38? Apparently, they just wanted a free meal! “From that time many [not a few but many!] of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Joshua and Caleb, only two of 12 spies, believed God’s word as touching the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-3,26-33; Numbers 14:6-10,30-39; Numbers 26:65; Numbers 32:9-13). Remember, Noah had seven converts after 120 years of preaching (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5). Consider the 7,000 believers in the Israeli kingdom of millions who had not worshipped the idol Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Think of the 3,000 converts in Acts 2:41 and the 5,000 believers in Acts 4:4—but what are these in a nation of millions? See the sad realities of 2 Timothy 1:15, Isaiah 1:9, and Genesis 18:23-33 (cf. Genesis 19:24,25)!

Paul, in today’s Scripture, knew his Bible well. Therefore, he understood he would not win all or even most of his Jewish brethren to Christ. Only some of them” would believe, and he continued his ministry to reach whomever he could….

That I Might Save Some of Them #1

Saturday, November 19, 2022

“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13,14 KJV).

The operative term here is “some!”

According to a contemporary researcher, just 6% of Americans have a biblical worldview: to wit, only this small remnant of the purported “Christian” United States actually believes we should think and live according to a literal, historical interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. A mere 37% of professing “Christian” pastors have a biblical worldview (mainline Protestant leaders are 32%, but Roman Catholic leaders are 6%). In decreasing order, here are the percentages of church members who agree with the biblical worldview: 78% of Southern Baptists, 51% of Evangelicals, 48% of Baptists, and 37% of Pentecostals. Overall, a meager 2% of Millennials—those born between the years 1980 and 2000—have a biblical worldview.

Friends, these are truly some alarming and dismal values, but, frankly, they are likely overestimates. Whoever believes “we are bringing in God’s kingdom by preaching the Gospel” is surely mistaken! Postmillennialism—“Jesus will come back to reign once we reform Earth”—is ignorance. Yet, if these figures are accurate, and unbelief runs rampant amongst those who attend and even lead church services, why should we bother to try to share the Bible with anyone at all? Why preach the Gospel of Grace when so few will receive and believe it? Today’s Scripture serves as a reminder that soul-winning has been the Christian’s challenge for 20 centuries.

The Apostle Paul wrote Romans during the Acts period, when he himself was travelling to and preaching Jesus Christ in synagogues (Jewish places of worship) throughout the Mediterranean world (for a few examples, see Acts 9:20, Acts 13:5,14, Acts 14:1, Acts 17:1-4,10,11,17, Acts 18:4,5). Read those contexts. Lost Jews would persecute him and his converts, for they so hated the Lord Jesus Christ whom he proclaimed and served (the same Christ their nation had murdered on Calvary’s cross years earlier!). Yet, Paul endured those struggles and sufferings in ministry to try and save even “some of them….”

The Man from Kerioth #4

Friday, November 4, 2022

“…Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him” (Matthew 10:4 KJV).

After Satan and the Antichrist, he is probably the most despised Bible character. Meet Judas Iscariot!

Unbelieving Judas’ downfall was materialism or avarice. Once he let that dominate him, the rest of Satan’s will appealed to him. Even though the context is the ministry of the local church (Paul’s Pastoral Epistles—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon), the following words of this the Dispensation of the Grace of God are advisable even for individual Christians.

First Timothy chapter 6: “…[5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment [clothing] let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will [desire/wish to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows…. [17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; [18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate [share]; [19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

How many preachers and teachers (or even church members) these last 2,000 years would be better off today had they heeded the above counsel, instead of mismanaging God’s money in their local assemblies because of their insatiable appetite for accumulating material wealth? Saints, it is absolutely not a sin to be rich monetarily, but if we are striving for this end instead of aiming to be “rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18), then we resemble that most despised man from Kerioth. Our name will be just as distasteful in others’ mouths as his is!

How to Have Faith

Friday, October 28, 2022

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 KJV).

Dear friend, do you suffer from a lack of faith? Today’s Scripture is the remedy!

Remarking on the dire spiritual conditions he observed 55 years ago, a preacher penned: “One reason so many church people have so little faith today is because they hear so little Gospel—and the average church member rarely—if ever—takes time to study the Bible. What church folk know about the Bible today is what they hear from the pulpit in Sunday services and at an occasional Wednesday night prayermeeting.” If that gloomy description was applicable five decades back, how much more at this present hour?

In the context of today’s Scripture (read the entire chapter), the Apostle Paul is commenting on how national Israel has remained in unbelief throughout the Acts period (he is likely writing during Acts chapter 20). Whether it was the Apostle Peter preaching during the opening chapters of Acts (prophecy), or the Apostle Paul during the latter chapters (mystery), most Jewish people were content with their works-religion. Paul’s argument in Romans chapter 10 is that they have had numerous opportunities to hear the Word of God, and yet remain in unbelief and adamantly refuse to trust the Lord Jesus Christ! They have heard the Word, but they have not believed what they have heard. In other words, they are without excuse.

Today’s people are usually not so fortunate. When they go to church, they hear the traditions of men (which will not lead to faith). They hear philosophy and vain deceit (which will not lead to faith). They hear the rudiments or basic principles of this world (which will not lead to faith). They hear non-rightly-divided Scripture (which will not lead to faith). Colossians 2:8 has been ignored, so they are not “[following] after Christ!” No wonder they are apostate (departed from the truth), disappointed, weak, confused, and spiritually ruined!

Beloved, unless we take the Holy Bible (King James in English!) in our own hands and read it rightly divided for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), and (above all) believe it in our heart, our spiritual understanding will be limited and we will be easily deceived (Ephesians 4:14). Here is how we have faith!

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….