Overseer, Not Dictator!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous” (1 Timothy 3:1-3 KJV).

A dear religious lady vented exasperation when describing to me the pitiful conditions in her local “Bible-believing, fundamental” assembly. She had been there all her life (many decades), but the new pastor, for the last two years, had become increasingly tyrannical. He was nothing like today’s Scripture!

As she described that pastor, I sat totally amazed (!) that any sensible group would retain him for any period! He “lashed out” at everyone with harsh words—refusing correction when his erroneous ideas were exposed, disrespecting the elderly members, and telling people not to question him since they were too ignorant in the Bible. He was even rude to those outside the assembly. In fact, someone who witnessed his evil ways asked the lady who talked to me, “What kind of preacher do y’all have down there?” Yes, the church’s reputation was tainted in the community because of him!

It gets worse. He had stolen money from the church! Furthermore, she said the only deacon who really knew anything in the Scriptures was “booted off” the board without notice. When I asked her if they could force that despotic pastor out, she said the congregation was equally divided. Half wanted to keep him (!); the other half wanted him gone. Dear friends, the blame for this spiritual circus actually falls on the previous pastor. He taught them nothing in the Scriptures to enable them to withstand the heretic now destroying the Lord’s ministry and people!

As today’s Scripture says, the “bishop” (episkopos, “overseer;” cf. Acts 20:28) should be the guardian of the local church. He should always be vigilant to spot error and defend the congregation from Satan’s policy of evil. However, sadly, so many church leaders today are nothing but Satan’s tools, wolves in sheep’s clothing (Acts 20:28-32). Let us beware of them, brethren, and either remove them from our midst, or remove ourselves from theirs!

Preachers of Little Faith

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

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

Over 50 years ago, a Christian minister lamented: “Great faith can be acquired only by hearing the Word of God. The reason most preachers have so little faith is because they spend more time around the television and on the golf course than they spend alone with God studying His Word.” Yes, whether five decades ago, or 20 centuries ago, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God!”

Today’s Scripture is actually a scolding of unbelieving Israel in the Acts period. Whether during the ministry of the 12 Apostles (early to mid-Acts), or that of the Apostle Paul (mid- to late Acts), the nation Israel overwhelmingly refused to believe on Jesus Christ. Paul wrote: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] 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.” Too caught up in self-righteousness (religious works), they did not see that righteousness was only in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Sound familiar?)

Verses 16 and 17: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul here is actually quoting Isaiah 53:1. Some 700 years before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah had great difficulty convincing his Jewish audience to believe God’s Word that he preached to them. The same was true in the ministries of Peter and the 11, and Paul. Israel had and heard God’s Word, but few Jews had trusted it!

Today, we have the completed Holy Bible, but how many—even preachers—actually read, study, and believe it? Usually, they read commentaries, watch religious television, sing hymns, and recite confessionals and creeds. There are so many distractions, especially in religion, vying for our attention. We had better pay attention to God’s Book, for it is the only way to have faith! Let us not repeat Israel’s mistake!

It is the Lord’s House!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:22,23 KJV).

It isHisBody indeed!

Church leaders should be concerned about the countless heresies that threaten to undermine and dissolve their assemblies. Doubtless, they must vigorously guard their pulpits, careful not to let false teachers slip in and do the Devil’s “dirty work” among God’s people! Yet, some well-meaning Christians have overwhelmed themselves in this regard. They spend most or all of their time and energy seeking and refuting error—leaving little to no time and energy to study the truth they already have in the Holy Bible rightly divided!

Moderation in the ministry is key, for even good things can be taken too far. It is easy to get caught up in addressing this error, that heresy, this splinter doctrine, that new “fad” belief. The Christian must always keep things balanced. Focusing on one issue and ignoring the rest is unwise. Yet, focusing on everything to the point where you cannot firmly grasp any one Bible doctrine is also imprudent. Eventually, the Christian will adopt the self-view of “saviour”—“I must save the Body of Christ from this, from that….” That believer will then worry about “correcting” everyone, hunting people down and making sure they have the right doctrine. Many sleepless nights will result—“Without me, all Christians will be deceived. I must warn every last person about every single doctrinal inaccuracy.”

Dear brethren, relax! There is no need for exhaustion. Our English word “church” is ultimately derived from the Greek kurios, meaning “lord.” To wit, “church” means “the Lord’s:” it is an entity that belongs to Him. The Church the Body of Christ is just that—it is His Body. He can and will take care of it. He nurtured it before we were born and He will take care of it after we die (if He tarries and we die). Rather than worrying about all congregations, we need to be focused on our individual group (assembly, family, et cetera). We maintain the testimony of sound Bible doctrine there, and let other leaders do the same with their group! 🙂

Instructing Those That Oppose Themselves

Friday, June 30, 2017

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 KJV).

How do we combat Bible ignorance? We “in meekness instruct those that oppose themselves!”

We all begin life as physical babies but we do not remain in that state. Eventually, we grow up and become adults. Rather than depending on others all our life, we increasingly do for ourselves. Just as we move on in our experience in life, so we become better aware of what is going on and what is expected of us. It is abnormal for us not to make such progress. We all grow at different rates, but we still grow. For an adult to think and behave like a small child is most tragic, and sadly, most churches today are nothing but spiritual nurseries. Spiritual immaturity is not a sin. Prolonged spiritual immaturity is!

Colossians 2:7 says of the Christian life: “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” The Lord Jesus Christ is the source of the Christian life. We are edified in Him. We should be “stablished [stabilized] in the faith:” that is, we are spiritually steadied, not “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness…” (Ephesians 4:14). The key is to be “taught” sound Bible doctrine—and there is rarely any teaching going on in Christian assemblies today. Most of the focus is on music, dancing, singing, liturgy, ceremonies, and prayers!

Friends, so many Christians are living contrary to who God has made them in His Son, Jesus Christ. In humility, gentleness, we must use the Word of God rightly divided to warn them, to teach them, to tell them how to come to the knowledge of the truth and escape the snare of the Devil! We must “instruct those that oppose themselves!”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Should I preach the same Bible messages I have preached before?

No Light in Them

Friday, May 26, 2017

“And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19,20 KJV).

Why is there “no light in them?”

Circa 700 B.C., the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Isaiah cautioned Israel in today’s Scripture to be very careful who they let guide them in spiritual matters. After all, just like today, Satan had a counterfeit religious system with preachers and precepts. Israel was admonished to stay close to God’s revealed Word to them, particularly the Mosaic Law (the foundation of their God-given religion). The Law was their standard of truth; conflicting teachings were to be ignored. God told Israel that, if someone disagreed with “the law and the testimony,” that person had “no light in them.” That is, there was spiritual ignorance.

In Romans chapter 1, we see how God gave up the evil Gentile nations back in Genesis chapter 11: “[21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…” (cf. Ephesians 4:17-19). Sinful man experiences this spiritual darkness when he rejects the revelation from and of God. JEHOVAH God told Israel to avoid such people. Moreover, Jesus said of Israel’s corrupt religious leaders who misled the common Jews: “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14).

Sadly, such “blind leaders of the blind” have infiltrated and subverted most “Christian” schools and churches for the last 2,000 years. Hence, many preachers deliver “Bible lessons” that are nothing but spiritual nonsense—“warmed-over” philosophical speculations of men. Gullible Christians, not grounded in sound Bible doctrine, sit under such “instructors,” ultimately deviating from God’s truth themselves even further. Ignoring the Holy Spirit’s teaching ministry (1 Corinthians 2:1-16), they attempt to make sense of the Scriptures in their own minds, to no avail. “It is because there is no light in them!”

Not a Game

Thursday, April 6, 2017

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (1 Corinthians 3:1,2 KJV).

Many such “Corinthians” can be found in churches today!

Recently, I watched my young nephew play a mock baseball game with his teammates. They have been practicing for some weeks; their “real” games are coming soon. Some boys threw, caught, and hit very well; most were clumsy. Coaches repeatedly advised them to pay attention. While their teammates batted, instead of watching and learning tips, they played around in the dugout. On the field, they looked up and around when they should have been watching the ball. One little boy, after hitting the ball, just stood there instead of running to first base. Another hit the ball and ran toward the dugout before the coach pointed him to the base. A coach fussed a player for taking off his glove when playing outfield. As I observed them playing, I just could not help but think that Father God is grieved because He sees similar behavior in the professing church!

Friends, inexperience is not sinful; prolonged immaturity is. Even the greatest professional athletes were unlearned at one time. Still, they practiced and matured, perfecting their sport. What would be sad is if they were no better playing today than when they first practiced many years ago! When I see many professing “Christians,” I see the aforementioned baseball game. Very few players pay full attention; they have focused their eyes on everything but what matters. Those “running” (busy) usually have no sense of what they are doing or where they are going! Perhaps they have been saved 40 or 50 years, but are still asking the same basic questions. Instead of listening to the “coaches” (or sound Bible preachers and teachers), they joke around on the sidelines.

They have not followed the Pauline edification process; they have not matured as God intended. Knowing nothing about dispensational Bible study, and ignorant of God’s grace, their flesh runs their life, which explains their confusion and misery. They must realize—Christianity is not a game!

Redeem the Year!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

“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 2017!

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?

By the way, I recently wrote and released a 45-page special Bible article, “The 2016 United States Presidential Election: A Bible-Believing, Grace Perspective.”