The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 5, 2022

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Superfluous #5

Monday, June 13, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Read today’s Scripture with its context: “[1] For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: [2] For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. [3] Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready: [4] Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. [5] Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.”

Paul knew how “froward” or zealous the Corinthians were in their giving (verse 2, today’s Scripture). This Greek word is also translated “willingness” or “readiness” (Acts 17:11; 2 Corinthians 8:11,12,19). He had even alerted the Macedonian believers (northern Greece) how these Achaian believers (southern Greece, including Corinth)—as much as year prior—had been enthusiastic in giving of their resources to support God’s people (Israel’s believing remnant). That news encouraged other saints to make donations too.

It was thus “superfluous” or redundant for Paul to write to the Corinthians about giving (they were already well informed about the situation). Yet, just in case any Macedonians would visit Corinth, and Corinth be not ready, Paul sent the Corinthians this second epistle (and brethren, including Titus; 2 Corinthians 8:16-18) with guidelines for giving. Unless the Holy Spirit led Paul to pen 2 Corinthians, with chapters 8–10 in place, we would be without principles for giving under grace. Saints, let us be thankful for those “superfluous” words.

Superfluous #4

Sunday, June 12, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Since the Lord’s introduction of the mystery program (the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message) delayed the conclusion of the prophetic program, it was only natural for Paul’s Gentile converts to then contribute financially to the welfare of Israel’s believing remnant already formed during the prophetic program. If Israel’s God was now the God of non-Jewish heathen—the fruit of Paul’s ministry—then these Gentile saints (the Church the Body of Christ) should support believing Israel (the Little Flock).

Romans 15:27 again: “It hath pleased them [Paul’s saints] verily; and their [Israel’s] debtors they [Paul’s saints] are. For if the Gentiles [Paul’s saints] have been made partakers of their [Israel’s] spiritual things, their [Paul’s saints] duty is also to minister unto them [Israel] in carnal [material, physical] things.” Hence, the Apostles James and Cephas (Peter) and John, leaders of the Jerusalem Church, prompted Paul and Barnabas to “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10; the Acts chapter 15 conference). Contrary to popular belief, the “poor” here are not underprivileged people in general: they are the poverty-stricken Little Flock of the Acts period!

In today’s Scripture, the issue is members of the Church the Body of Christ (Paul’s ministry) giving financial aid to Israel’s “saints” or believing remnant (under the leadership of Peter and the 11 Apostles). As Paul established and visited local grace churches, he took up collections of money and goods to bring to “the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:26; also, remember 1 Corinthians 16:1-3). By the time of today’s Scripture (2 Corinthians), the Corinthian saints (in 1 Corinthians) had already been made aware of the plight of the Jewish believers in Christ in Jerusalem and Judaea; the Corinthians needed no instructions about giving, so it was “superfluous” for Paul to write to them on the subject.

However, the Holy Spirit through Paul taught them again about giving under grace anyway….

Superfluous #3

Saturday, June 11, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

To prepare them for the Antichrist’s satanic religious-economic system (Revelation 13:15-18), Christ directed His disciples to relinquish and sell their material goods (Matthew 19:21-30; Mark 10:21-31; Luke 18:22-30). Guarding against Satan’s distractions, they were not to be attached to this world’s riches (Matthew 6:19-34; Luke 12:13-34). In Acts 2:44,45 and Acts 4:32-37, Israel’s believing remnant obeyed Christ: they literally sold their personal possessions and lived off a common fund.

Of course, our dispensation introduced in Acts chapter 9 postponed the prophetic program, so the Antichrist is still future and their common fund went bankrupt. In Acts 11:27-30, a “dearth” or famine struck Judaea (the neighborhood of Jerusalem), further compounding the Little Flock’s dire financial straits: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul [another name for the Apostle Paul].” Hence, in some of Paul’s “Acts” epistles, we read such verses as the following.

“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things” (Romans 15:25-27). “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality [kind donations] unto Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

Here is “the ministering to the saints” of today’s Scripture….

Superfluous #2

Friday, June 10, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

Remember, as per Leviticus 22:23, “lacking” is on one extreme of the spectrum and “superfluous” is on the other end. This concept agrees with the dictionary definition: the prefix “super–” is derived from the Latin for “above, beyond,” whereas “fluere” means “to flow.” To be “superfluous,” therefore, is to overflow. Let us now take what we have learned about this term and plug it in to today’s Scripture so we can amplify Paul’s words to Corinth.

Today’s Scripture is actually part of a larger context—namely, giving under grace. Chapters 8–10 outline the principles of how we should give our resources (money and other material goods) for the furtherance of the Lord’s ministry. Bear in mind: we do not (!) appeal to the so-called “10 percent” tithe of the Law of Moses, for that was “perform to get the blessing or fail to perform to get the curse” (Malachi 3:8-12). God’s legalistic words to Israel under the Law in Malachi (Malachi 1:1) are wholly contrary to His words in the Dispensation of Grace, 2 Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let [allow, not demand!] him give; not grudgingly [reluctantly, unwillingly], or of necessity [commandment-keeping, requirement, forced giving, extortion!]: for God loveth a cheerful [wholehearted, happy, excited] giver.”

Never once does the Holy Spirit through Paul ever order us to give a certain percentage of any amount (including “10 percent!”). All we do is “give ourselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5), and the Word of His Grace (not Law!!!) will work in us believers to give of our assets to accomplish the work of the ministry. Provided we are willing to forsake the preconceived notions we learned in our denominational systems, it will be quite clear how God’s grace motivates us to give.

We want to transition now to focus particularly on Paul’s “Acts” ministry, “the ministering to the saints” of today’s Scripture, and the role “superfluous” played in that regard….

Superfluous #1

Thursday, June 9, 2022

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many” (2 Corinthians 9:1,2 KJV).

What does “superfluous” mean?

One recurrent complaint lodged against the King James Bible is that it is “hard to read.” Such a grievance likely stems from a mindless echoing of a sales pitch heard from a translator or publisher of a modern English version. Instead of seeking a Bible that is “easier to read” (the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages read just as difficult!), we need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour so the indwelling Holy Spirit can then teach us! Though the Scriptures have been habitually reworded via the aid of “textual criticism” (over 100 times!), it has come at the cost of sacrificing God’s spiritually-mature words. An “easy-to-read” version is simply “God’s Word” corrupted by natural-man thinking. Holy Writ should be handled far more reverently.

Let us take, for instance, the King James term “superfluous” in today’s Scripture. What does it mean? Of course, at the very least, we could look for the definition in a dictionary. However, a more profitable approach would be to take a concordance and see if the Bible uses the word in other verses, and if those passages would shed any light on today’s Scripture. Studying and comparing verses is the mature Christian’s method to spiritual enlightenment and growth.

We find “superfluous” also appears in Leviticus 22:23, in the context of animal sacrifices offered according to the Mosaic system: “Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.” Be careful to recognize how “superfluous” sits in opposition to “lacking in his parts.” Obviously, “lacking” indicates the absence of something that should be present; therefore, “superfluous” is the other extreme, the presence of something that should be absent. Read verses 17-25, how deformities in or injuries to animal bodies render them inadmissible for vow offerings.

Thus, “superfluous” means excessive, unnecessary, extra….

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 6, 2021

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Thieves in the Temple

Monday, February 15, 2021

And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves (Luke 19:45,46 KJV).

There were swindlers in “God’s house” then—just like today!

Recently, I heard from a man whose elderly father had just died. The late man had a clear testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ. (I talked with him years back.) Yet, a cult had captivated him, and he had moved far away from his family to attend “church services” there. For over a decade, he supported that woman preacher financially. When he graduated to Heaven, his son took over his estate and went through his personal records. As it turned out, that dear soul was giving a mandatory 25% of his annual income to that church. According to his last will and testament, 40% of his remaining fortune will go to fund the “church”—leaving his son very little inheritance!

Sadly, religion is “big bu$ine$$.” The amount of wealth taken from people under the guise of “church,” “Bible,” and “God” is far greater than the sum of every bank heist, every company embezzlement, and every purse-snatching. Surely, the Lord will absolutely not let people get away with such dishonesty. In fact, according to today’s Scripture, He exposed them in—and evicted them from—the Jerusalem Temple.

They were charging outrageous amounts for sacrificial animals… the very offerings the poor people needed to purchase for worship as per the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, officials working under the priests exchanged foreign currencies for the Jewish shekel—and they gave back far less than the equivalent. That is, “Do not defile God’s house with your pagan coins bearing idolatrous images! Come ‘exchange’ them for the shekel, and buy your sacrifices from us. Our fees are ‘quite reasonable!’” (Such hypocrisy.)

Hence, after today’s Scripture, “And [Jesus] taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him, And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear him.” How furious they were once Jesus put them out of bu$ine$$!

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 7, 2020

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Careful—But Not Careful! #4

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many drastic changes to our daily life. We are social beings, so confinement to our houses is difficult. It is particularly vexing for children, for many cannot play outside and/or go to an actual school building. While all the transformations are inconvenient, some are actually beneficial. For example, today’s society is spoiled—especially we in America. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having possessions, taking trips or vacations, eating out at restaurants, or seeking various forms of entertainment, it can be (and usually is) overdone. If our lives are so bound up in these, how traumatic is their absence! Coronavirus precautions and restrictions have eliminated or reduced these experiences.

With such distractions removed, and added stress due to medical and economic concerns, the world’s people are actually more receptive to spiritual truth than ever. They have come to realize what the Scriptures laid out 2,000 years ago: “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” (1 Timothy 6:17). Material possessions are “uncertain.” While we will certainly lose them (due to theft, economic downturn, death, et cetera), the timing of their forfeiture is unknown.

Another reality they are learning firsthand is James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Living for the “here-and-now”—as if this life is the only one, as if there is no afterlife—has its limits. Life on Earth is ever so fragile, as any small threat (illness or accident) can immediately end it. Is it prudent to enjoy this life at the expense of the next one? No! At this time, people are contemplating their own mortality, and they had better keep heading toward the Scriptures….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?