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!

Doubletongued

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

“Likewise must the deacons be… not doubletongued” (1 Timothy 3:8 KJV).

One sinful tongue is bad enough—but having two is even worse!

When today’s Scripture references a “doubletongued” man, we understand that to be figurative instead of literal. The tongue symbolizes our ability to talk. (We are using common sense here, are we not?) To have two tongues is to communicate two different messages, the man using one tongue to speak one idea to one party but utilizing a second tongue to express a second thought to a second group. In fact, the Greek word is “dilogos”—literally, “two words/sayings.” One of the qualifications of the “deacon,” or the bishop’s male helper in the local assembly, is that he be void of duplicity or deceit. He says what he means, and he means what he says. His words are not hypocritical. He does not tell “half-truths” either. Why would someone want to be “doubletongued” anyway?

Firstly, when we remember this is a church setting, the threat is obvious. False teachers seek to infiltrate the assemblies of God’s people. By spreading their misinformation, they further their agenda, theological system, and denomination—but they are so covert they often go undetected! Secondly, the “doubletongued” person may be seeking to be a “menpleaser” (Colossians 3:22). As long as one’s doctrine is general and never settled in specifics, he or she will attract people of all kinds of persuasions (hence, larger crowds, more books $old, et cetera!). You cannot pinpoint exactly what they believe and teach because they deliberately vary their content from setting to setting.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31). Would you want someone like this leading your local assembly? Then, dear friend, your church had better think long and hard before appointing any deacons!

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….

We Are Just Men #2

Saturday, March 19, 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!

Arrogance is a mark of immaturity. We have not yet learned enough, we have not grown up, to know and appreciate the full extent of our weaknesses and limitations. The result is a distorted view of reality. We have an inaccurate opinion of ourselves. Also, we lack a clear picture of those around us, individuals just as human as we are. The Corinthian assembly of saints had sufficient exposure to the truth of God’s Word to form adult spiritual thoughts and make wise spiritual decisions. For at least 18 months, the Apostle Paul himself lived in Corinth, won them to Christ, and taught them sound Bible doctrine (Acts 18:11). Later, Apollos, a convert of Paul’s converts Aquila and Priscilla, taught in Corinth too (Acts 19:1). Alas, Corinth was a center of such pride.

For example, look at these “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) “puffed up” in today’s Scripture. Or, how they were “puffed up,” daring Paul to come back and straighten them out (1 Corinthians 4:18,19)! Furthermore, they were “puffed up” in connection to a fornicating brother they refused to reform (1 Corinthians 5:2). Of course, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth” (verse 1 of chapter 8). Finally, there was the admonition in chapter 13, verse 4, of how charity “is not puffed up;” these saints were using their spiritual gifts for the benefit of self, self, self instead of assembly, assembly, assembly. Imagine a set of bellows stirring up a fire, or a pump inflating a tire. They are swollen or bloated—unsightly in the Lord’s eyes! Consequently, the Holy Spirit through Paul intervenes, penning today’s Scripture and its context. These confused saints need godly examples of how to look at people, including genuine Christian leaders….